Crew Begins Unloading Cygnus, Works Science Ahead of June Crew Swap

The Orbital ATK Space Freighter
This view taken from inside the Cupola shows the Orbital ATK space freighter moments before it was grappled with the Canadarm2 robotic arm on May 24, 2018.

The Cygnus resupply ship from Orbital ATK is now open for business and the Expedition 55 crew has begun unloading the 7,400 pounds of cargo it delivered Thursday morning. The orbital residents are also conducting space research and preparing for a crew swap in early June.

There are now four spaceships parked at the International Space Station, the newest one having arrived to resupply the crew early Thursday morning. Astronauts Drew Feustel and Norishige Kanai opened Cygnus’ hatches shortly after it was installed to the Unity module. The cargo carrier will remain attached to the station until July so the astronauts can offload new supplies and repack Cygnus with trash.

NASA astronaut Scott Tingle, who caught Cygnus with the Canadarm2 robotic arm, swapped out gear inside a small life science research facility today called TangoLab-1. Tingle also joined Kanai later in the day transferring frozen biological samples from the Destiny lab module to the Kibo lab module.

The duo also joined Commander Anton Shkaplerov and continued to pack gear and check spacesuits ahead of their return to Earth on June 3 inside the Soyuz MS-07 spaceship. When the three crewmates land in Kazakhstan, about three and a half hours after undocking, the trio will have spent 168 days in space and conducted one spacewalk each.

Three new Expedition 56-57 crew members, waiting to replace the homebound station crew, are counting down to a June 6 launch to space. Astronauts Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Alexander Gerst will take a two-day ride to the space station with cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev inside the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft for a six-month mission aboard the orbital laboratory.

Captain’s Log – First Days on the Station

NASA astronaut Scott Tingle captures the view of a sunrise from the International Space Station.
NASA astronaut Scott Tingle captures the view of a sunrise from the International Space Station.

  • Crew:  Captain Scott ”Maker” Tingle, USN
  • ISS Location:  Low Earth Orbit
  • Earth Date: 25 December 2017
  • Earth Time (GMT):  21:00

At 22:00, after initial “safing” and unpacking of Soyuz, we finally retired to our quarters. It was very hard to sleep, and I think the busy days leading us to the International Space Station (ISS) were beginning to take their toll. We were scheduled for a full day of work to include familiarization of safety equipment as well as beginning to prepare several science experiments for action. The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft arrived to ISS a couple days before we did, and its cargo included several experiments that needed to be conducted promptly upon arrival. I was doing a great job of floating from one module to another. Since I was a little behind schedule due to having to learn where everything is, I decided I could speed up my floating to be more expeditious. Well, we know how that usually goes and this time was no exception. I gathered a “bag of knots” (aviator slang for “going really fast”) and began a healthy transition from Node 2 into the Columbus module – where I predictably hit the top of my head. Ouch. The following three days (Tuesday-Saturday) were challenging as we worked to integrate all of our new knowledge and increase our efficiencies. The senior crew was very helpful and understanding. I was very grateful of how they managed our arrival and how they slowly passed down the information we needed to get started. Everything was different from life on Earth. Everything. We quickly figured out that we needed to think differently as we began to adapt to life in space. Drinking water, preparing food, eating food, using the toilet, working, physical training, etc., all different. I had a good handle on the differences and what to expect before I got there. But I didn’t expect that when operations got very busy that my reflexes would respond naturally as they did on Earth. The light bulb came on. I was going to have to move slower and think about everything before I took action. This is why space fliers new to this environment appear to be less efficient than most managers and/or operations planners would like. Adaptation to life in space takes time, and you can’t rush it.

Astronaut Scott Tingle watches the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft arrive
Astronaut Scott Tingle watches the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft arrive from inside the seven-windowed Cupola moments before capturing it with the Canadarm2 robotic arm.

On day three, I finally had the opportunity to look out the Cupola (window facing Earth). My Lord, what a beautiful sight. I could see the sun rising in front of us, darkness below and behind us, and a bright blue ring highlighting the curvature of the Earth as the sun began to rise. Absolutely amazing!

We wrapped up our busy week and celebrated Saturday night by enjoying some rehydrated meats and instant juices! Christmas Eve, we had a few tasks that kept us busy, and the same on Christmas Day.   Fortunately, we were able to have video conferences with our families over the holiday, and it was really nice to talk with them. We also had a very short celebration for Christmas after work was done. Our wonderful Behavioral Health Professionals at NASA had sent us Christmas stockings in the SpaceX cargo delivery. I added the small gifts that I brought for the crew – superhero socks! Mark got Hulk socks, Nemo (Norishige Kanai) got Spiderman socks, Joe got Deadpool socks, Anton got Superman socks, and Sasha and I got Batman socks. NOW, we are ready to conquer space!

Station to Orbit Higher Before Spacewalk and Crew Landing

The six-member Expedition 55 crew poses inside the Harmony module
The six-member Expedition 55 crew poses inside the Harmony module which links both the Japanese Kibo and the European Columbus laboratory modules. In the bottom row from left, are Soyuz MS-08 crew members Drew Feustel, Ricky Arnold and Oleg Artemyev. In the top row from left, are Soyuz MS-07 crew members Anton Shkaplerov, Scott Tingle and Norishige Kanai.

The International Space Station will be orbiting a little higher this weekend to prepare for the departure of three Expedition 55 crew members and the arrival of a new Russian cargo craft. The docked Russian Progress 69 resupply ship will fire its engines Saturday at 6:07 p.m. EDT for two minutes and 52 seconds slightly boosting the orbital lab’s altitude.

This orbital reboost sets up the proper phasing trajectory for the Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft when it undocks June 3.  The Soyuz will carry Commander Anton Shkaplerov and Flight Engineers Scott Tingle and Norishige Kanai back to Earth after six-and-a-half month mission in space. The reboost will also enable a two-orbit launch to docking opportunity for Russia’s next resupply ship the Progress 70 in July.

Overnight and early Friday morning robotics controllers from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency supported the deployment of small satellites from outside the Kibo laboratory module. The Japanese robotic arm attached to Kibo ejected several small satellites to support a series of technology demonstrations.

Two spacewalkers and a pair of Flight Engineers continued more computer training and procedure reviews today ahead of next week’s spacewalk. NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel will go outside in their U.S. spacesuits Wednesday for about 6.5 hours to swap out thermal control gear that cools external station systems. Tingle and Kanai will assist the duo in and out of the Quest airlock and help choreograph the spacewalk tasks.

Captain’s Log – Launch and Docking

The Soyuz rocket is launched with Expedition 54-55 crew members
The Soyuz rocket is launched with Expedition 54 Soyuz Commander Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos, flight engineer Scott Tingle of NASA, and flight engineer Norishige Kanai of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Shkaplerov, Tingle, and Kanai will spend the next five months living and working aboard the International Space Station. Photo Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

  • Crew:  Captain Scott “Maker” Tingle, USN
  • ISS Location:  Low Earth Orbit
  • Earth Date: 19 December 2017
  • Earth Time (GMT):  21:00

The launch went as planned. Our Soyuz spacecraft did a great job getting the three of us to the International Space Station (ISS).

A week later, it all seems like a blur. The bus driver played me a video of my family and friends delivering their good luck messages. After exiting the bus at the launch pad, I was fortunate to have the Soyuz chief designer (Roman) and NASA’s associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations (Bill Gerstenmaier) walk me to the stairs and elevator that would take us to the top of the rocket for boarding. The temperature at the pad was approximately -17 degrees centigrade, and we were wearing the Russian Polar Bear suits over our spacesuits in order to stay warm. Walking in these suits is a little hard, and I was happy to have Roman and Bill helping me. We walked into the fog created by the systems around the rocket, climbed the ladder, and waved goodbye. My last words before launch were to Bill, “Boiler Up!”. Bill is a fellow and very well-known Boilermaker. We strapped in, and the launch and docking were nominal. But I will add that the second stage cutoff and separation, and ignition of the third stage was very exciting. We were under approximately 4 Gs when the engine cutoff, which gave us a good jolt forward during the deceleration and then a good jolt back into the seat after the third stage ignited. I looked at Anton and we both began to giggle like school children.

Commander Alexander Misurkin welcomes Flight Engineer Scott Tingle
International Space Station Commander Alexander Misurkin welcomes newly arrived Flight Engineer Scott Tingle following Soyuz spacecraft hatch opening.

We spent two days in orbit as our phase angle aligned with ISS. Surprisingly, I did not feel sick. I even got 4 hours of sleep the first night and nearly 6 hours the second night. Having not been able to use my diaper while sitting in the fetal position during launch, it was nice to get out of our seats and use the ACY (Russian toilet). Docking was amazing. I compared it to rendezvousing on a tanker in a fighter jet, except the rendezvous with ISS happened over a much larger distance. As a test pilot, it was very interesting to watch the vehicle capture and maintain the centerline of ISS’s MRM-1 docking port as well as capturing and maintaining the required speed profile. Just like landing at the ship, I could feel the vehicle’s control system (thrusters) making smaller and faster corrections and recorrections. In the flight test world, this is where the “gains” increase rapidly and where any weaknesses in the control system will be exposed. It was amazing to see the huge solar arrays and tons of equipment go by my window during final approach. What an engineering marvel the ISS is. Smooth sailing right into the docking port we went!

About an hour later, after equalizing pressures between the station and Soyuz, we opened the hatch and greeted our friends already onboard. My first view of the inside of the space station looked pretty close to the simulators we have been training in for the last several years. My first words were, “Hey, what are you guys doing at Building 9?”. Then we tackled each other with celebratory hugs!

Expedition 55 at Full Staff After New Trio Boards Station

Expedition 55 Crew Greeting Creremony
The newest Expedition 55 crew members (front row from left) Ricky Arnold, Oleg Artemyev and Drew Feustel gather in the Zvezda service module and speak to family and colleagues back on Earth. Behind them are (from left) Norishige Kanai, Commander Anton Shkaplerov and Scott Tingle. Credit: NASA TV

Three new Expedition 55 crew members were welcomed aboard the International Space Station today. The hatches between the two spacecraft opened at 5:48 p.m. EDT, marking the arrival of Expedition 55 Flight Engineers Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold of NASA and cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos.

The trio joined Scott Tingle of NASA, Commander Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos and Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency aboard the orbiting laboratory.

Momentarily, crew will speak to their family and friends from Baiknour in a welcoming ceremony that will air live on NASA TV and the agency’s website.

Learn more about station activities by following @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

New Crew Midway to Station Before Spacewalk and Cargo Ops

Soyuz MS-08 Launch
The Soyuz MS-08 rocket is pictured blasting off Wednesday carrying three Expedition 55-56 crew members to outer space.

Three new Expedition 55 crew members are set to begin their mission aboard the International Space Station when they dock to the Poisk module Friday at 3:41 p.m. EDT. Flight Engineers Ricky Arnold, Drew Feustel and Soyuz Commander Oleg Artemyev are midway through their flight inside the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft that launched Wednesday at 1:44 p.m. from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Expedition 55 Commander Anton Shkaplerov and Flight Engineers Scott Tingle and Norishige Kanai will greet their new crewmates when the hatches to the new Soyuz spacecraft open Friday around 5:45 p.m. The current station crew has been living onboard the orbital complex since Dec. 19.

NASA TV will cover the rendezvous and docking activities live beginning Friday at 3 p.m. The hatch opening and welcome ceremony broadcast will start at 5 p.m.

As they wait for their new crewmates, Tingle and Kanai are getting a pair of U.S. spacesuits ready for next Thursday’s spacewalk to install new communications gear. Commander Shkaplerov is loading a Russian resupply ship with trash and obsolete gear ahead of its undocking on Wednesday.

New Crew Blasts Off to Join Station on Friday

The Soyuz Rocket Launches
The Soyuz MS-08 rocket launches on time with three new Expedition 55-56 crew members heading to their new home in space: Credit: NASA TV

The Soyuz MS-08 launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station at 1:44 p.m. EDT (11:44 p.m. Kazakhstan time). NASA astronauts Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold and cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos are safely in orbit on their way to the International Space Station.

The trio will orbit Earth for approximately two days before docking to the space station’s Poisk module at 3:41 p.m. Friday, March 23. Coverage of docking will begin at 3 p.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website, followed at 5 p.m. by coverage of the opening of hatches between the spacecraft and station.

The arrival Friday of Feustel, Arnold and Artemyev will restore the station’s crew complement to six as they join Scott Tingle of NASA, Expedition 55 Commander Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos and Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. The crew members will spend more than five months conducting about 250 science investigations in fields such as biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences and technology development.

This crew continues the long-term increase in crew size on the U.S. segment from three to four, allowing NASA to maximize time dedicated to research on the space station. Highlights of upcoming investigations include: a new facility to test materials, coatings and components of other large experiments in the harsh environment of space; a study on the effects of microgravity on bone marrow and blood cells produced in bone marrow; and a newly-developed passive nutrient delivery system for the Veggie plant growth facility.

Arnold, a former educator, will continue NASA’s Year of Education on Station, an initiative to engage students and educators in human spaceflight and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers.

Learn more about station activities by following @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Countdown Under Way as Crew Preps for Launch Today

The Expedition 55-56 crew
The Expedition 55-56 crew poses for a picture at the conclusion of a press conference, Tuesday, March 20, 2018 a the Cosmonaut Hotel in Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

Two American astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut are making final preparations for their journey to the International Space Station. At the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, NASA astronauts Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold and cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos are set to launch in the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft at 1:44 p.m. EDT (11:44 p.m. Kazakhstan time).

Live coverage will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

The three will join Expedition 55 commander Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos, Scott Tingle of NASA and Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to continue work on hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science aboard humanity’s only permanently occupied microgravity laboratory.

Below is the crew’s launch timeline in EDT:

EDT              L-Hr/M/Sec    Event

10:39:25am   3:05              First and second stage oxygen fueling complete
10:44:25am   3:00              Crew walkout from 254 and board bus for the launch pad
10:49:25am   2:55              Crew departs for launch pad (Site 1)
11:09:25am    2:35              Crew arrives at launch pad (Site 1)
12:19:25pm    2:25              Crew boards Soyuz; strapped in to the Descent module
12:09:25pm   1:35              Descent module hardware tested
12:24:25pm    1:20              Hatch closed; leak checks begin
12:44:25pm    1:00              Launch vehicle control system prep; gyro activation
12:45:00pm    :59:25         NASA TV LAUNCH COVERAGE BEGINS
12:59:25pm      :45              Pad service structure components lowered
1:00:25pm       :44              Clamshell gantry service towers retracted
1:05:00pm   :39:25           NASA TV: Crew pre-launch activities played (B-roll)
1:07:25pm       :37              Suit leak checks begin; descent module testing complete
1:10:25pm       :34              Emergency escape system armed
1:29:25pm       :15              Suit leak checks complete; escape system to auto
1:34:25pm       :10              Gyros in flight readiness and recorders activated
1:37:25pm       :07              Pre-launch operations complete
1:38:25pm       :06              Launch countdown operations to auto; vehicle ready
1:39:25pm       :05              Commander’s controls activated
1:40:25pm       :04              Combustion chamber nitrogen purge
1:41:25pm       :03              Propellant drainback
1:41:40pm       :02:45         Booster propellant tank pressurization
1:42:55pm       :01:30         Ground propellant feed terminated
1:43:25pm       :01:00         Vehicle to internal power
1:43:50pm       :00:35         First umbilical tower separates
Auto sequence start
1:43:55pm       :00:30         Ground umbilical to third stage disconnected
1:44:10pm       :00:15         Second umbilical tower separates
1:44:13pm       :00:12         Launch command issued
Engine Start Sequence Begins
1:44:15pm       :00:10         Engine turbopumps at flight speed
1:44:20pm     :00:05          Engines at maximum thrust

1:44:25pm      :00:00         LAUNCH OF SOYUZ MS-08 TO THE ISS
(At the time of launch, the space station will be over the south Atlantic, east of Argentina; altitude of about 257 statute miles)

1:53:10pm        +8:45        THIRD STAGE SHUTDOWN; SOYUZ ORBITAL INSERTION

The next update will be after the crew safely reaches orbit.

After a two-day flight, the new crew members will dock to the station’s Poisk docking module at 3:41 p.m. Friday, March 25. About two hours later, hatches between the Soyuz and the station will open, and the new residents will begin their mission.

Learn more about station activities by following @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Soyuz Rocket Rolls Out at T-Minus Two Days to Launch

The Soyuz rocket is raised into a vertical position
The Soyuz rocket is raised into a vertical position on the launch pad, Monday, March 19, 2018 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

A pair of U.S. astronauts and one Russian cosmonaut are just two days away from launching on a 50-hour, 34-orbit flight to the International Space Station. Flight Engineers Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel will flank Soyuz Commander Oleg Artemyev inside the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft and blast off Wednesday at 1:44 p.m. EDT from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The Soyuz rocket that will shoot the new Expedition 55-56 trio to space rolled out to its launch pad early this morning. A train slowly hauled the rocket, as it laid horizontally on its side, from the processing facility to its pad where it was raised vertically for servicing ahead of its launch.

All three crewmates are veteran space-flyers and are due to arrive at their new home Friday when they dock to the Poisk module at 3:41 p.m.  NASA TV will broadcast all the launch and docking activities including the hatch opening and crew greeting ceremony live.

Waiting for them onboard the orbital laboratory are Flight Engineers Scott Tingle and Norishige Kanai and Expedition 55 Commander Anton Shkaplerov who have been living in space since Dec. 17. The orbiting trio continues to ensure the station is flying in tip-top shape while conducting advanced space science to benefit humans on Earth and in space.

Station Orbiting Higher Ahead of New Crew and Cargo Missions

The Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft is rotated to a horizontal position
In the Integration Facility at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft is rotated to a horizontal position March 14 to be encapsulated in the upper stage of a Soyuz booster rocket.

One week from today three individuals will blast off on a two-day trip to the International Space Station. They will join the three Expedition 55 crew members already in space who continue to research the effects of living in space while maintaining the orbital laboratory.

The Soyuz spacecraft that will carry one cosmonaut and two astronauts to their new home in space was encapsulated into its rocket today ahead of its March 21 launch. Soyuz Commander Oleg Artemyev will fly the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft ferrying him and NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel to the station’s Poisk module on March 23.

Waiting for the trio are Expedition 55 Commander Anton Shkaplerov and Flight Engineers Scott Tingle and Norishige Kanai. Today, the orbiting crewmates watered plants for a space crop study and scanned their eyes with an ultrasound device for ongoing health checks. They are also getting gear ready for the next spacewalk to conduct maintenance on the orbital lab.

The space station is orbiting a little higher today after a docked Russian cargo craft fired its engines for 1 minute and 48 seconds. The burn increased the lab’s altitude enabling future spacecraft operations including the undocking of the Expedition 54-55 trio in June and the docking of a new Russian space freighter in July.