Cargo Ships and Cancer Research Keeps Orbital Lab Humming

The Northrop Grumman (formerly Orbital ATK) Cygnus resupply ship
The Northrop Grumman (formerly Orbital ATK) Cygnus resupply ship with its round, brass-colored UltraFlex solar arrays is guided to its port on the Unity module shortly after it was captured with the Canadarm2 robotic arm on May 24, 2018.

Russia’s Progress 70 (70P) cargo craft delivered nearly 5,700 pounds of crew supplies and station cargo to the International Space Station on Monday less than four hours after launch. Meanwhile, the U.S. Cygnus resupply ship from Northrop Grumman tested its ability to boost the orbital laboratory’s altitude today.

Monday’s arrival of the Russian resupply craft set a milestone for station operations by arriving with its cargo in just 3 hours and 40 minutes, or only two Earth orbits. The new Progress makes six spacecraft parked at the orbital complex including the Progress 69 resupply ship, the Soyuz MS-08 and MS-09 crew ships and the SpaceX Dragon and Northrop Grumman Cygnus space freighters.

The engine on Northrup Grumman’s Cygnus cargo ship fired for 50 seconds Tuesday at 4:25 p.m. EDT to reboost the station in a test designed to verify an additional capability to adjust the station’s altitude, if required. The brief engine firing raised the station’s altitude by about 295 feet. Cygnus will depart the station on Sunday after delivering several tons of supplies and science experiments back in May for the six crewmembers on board.

Astronauts Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Alexander Gerst continued more life science work today exploring cancer research and fertility. Serena split her time today between testing ways to develop safer, more effective cancer therapies and exploring how living in space impacts fertility. Gerst set up a specialized microscope to look at proteins that could be used for cancer treatment and radiation protection.

Expedition 56 Greets Three New Crew Members

Expedition 56 Crew Greeting
The newly-expanded Expedition 56 crew gathers in the Zvezda service module for a crew greeting ceremony with family, friends and mission officials in Moscow. In the front row from left are new Flight Engineers Sergey Prokopyev, Alexander Gerst and Serena Auñón-Chancellor. In the back row are Flight Engineer Oleg Artemyev, Commander Drew Feustel and Flight Engineer Ricky Arnold. Credit: NASA TV

Three new Expedition 56 crew members were welcomed aboard the International Space Station today. Hatches between the space station and Soyuz opened at 11:17 a.m. EDT, marking the arrival of Expedition 56 Flight Engineers Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA, Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency), and cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos.

The Soyuz MS-09 carrying the trio launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 7:12 a.m. Wednesday, June 6. They joined Expedition 56 Commander Drew Feustel and Flight Engineers Ricky Arnold of NASA and Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos aboard the orbiting laboratory.

The crew members are also being greeted by family and friends who watched the docking and hatch opening from the Russian Mission Control Center outside Moscow.

For more information about the mission visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get breaking news, images and features from the station on Instagram at: @iss and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

Contact and Capture: Three Crew Members Arrive at Station

Soyuz MS-09 Docking
The Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft is pictured moments after docking to the space station’s Rassvet module.

The Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft docked to the Rassvet module of the International Space Station at 9:01 a.m. EDT while both spacecraft were flying over eastern China.

Following their two-day trip, astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA, astronaut Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency), and cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos docked to the space station. Their arrival restores the station’s crew complement to six as they wait to join Expedition 56 Commander Drew Feustel and Flight Engineers Ricky Arnold of NASA and Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos aboard the orbiting laboratory.

The hatches between the two spacecraft will open following standard pressurization and leak checks. Watch the hatch opening and welcome ceremony on NASA Television and the agency’s website beginning at 10:30 a.m.

For more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get breaking news, images and features from the station on Instagram at: @iss and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

Station Waits for Friday Crew Arrival Ahead of June 14 Spacewalk

Soyuz Rocket Blasts Off
The Soyuz Ms-09 rocket blasts off June 6, 2018 with three new Expedition 56-57 crew members to the space station.

Two astronauts and a cosmonaut are racing toward the International Space Station today inside the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft. The new Expedition 56-57 trio comprising Sergey Prokopyev and Flight Engineers Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Alexander Gerst are due to arrive Friday at 9:07 a.m. EDT when they dock to the Rassvet module.

NASA TV will begin its live coverage of the rendezvous and docking of the new crew at 8:15 a.m. NASA TV will then be back on the air at 10:30 a.m. when the new crew opens the hatches at 11:05 a.m. and enters their new home in space where they will live for the next six months.

Waiting to greet their new crewmates are station Commander Drew Feustel and Flight Engineers Ricky Arnold and Oleg Artemyev who have been onboard the orbital laboratory since March. All six Expedition 56 crew members will gather in the Zvezda service module for a welcoming ceremony with family and mission officials back on Moscow. Next the crewmates will begin familiarizing themselves with station systems and safety procedures.

In the meantime, Feustel and Arnold are moving ahead with preparations for next week’s spacewalk to outfit the station’s Harmony module with new enhanced high definition television cameras and wireless communications gear. The duo organized spacewalking tools and gear, recharged spacesuit and camera batteries and reviewed procedures for the 6.5-hour excursion planned for June 14. The new cameras will improve the view of approaching commercial crew vehicles for dockings in the future. The new wireless equipment will enable data transmission from payloads mounted on the outside of the Columbus and Kibo modules.

Crew Launches to Space, Reaches Station on Friday

The Soyuz MS-09 rocket  heads to space
The Soyuz MS-09 rocket heads to space with three Expedition 56-57 crew members after launching on time from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The Soyuz MS-09 launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station at 7:12 a.m. EDT Wednesday, June 6 (5:12 p.m. in Baikonur). At the time of launch, the station was flying about 250 miles above south central Egypt, moving from southwest to northeast. NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor, Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency), and Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos are now safely in orbit.

The crew will orbit Earth 34 times before the spacecraft’s arrival and docking to the space station’s Rassvet module at 9:07 a.m. Friday, June 8, which will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website, followed at 10:30 a.m. by coverage of the opening of hatches between the spacecraft and station.

The docking timeline Friday, June 8 EDT is:

  • 8:15 a.m. – Docking coverage begins (docking scheduled for 9:07 a.m.)
  • 10:30 a.m. – Hatch opening and welcome coverage begins (hatch opening expected at 11:05 a.m.)

 The arrival of Auñón-Chancellor, Gerst and Prokopyev will restore the station to six crew members. They will join Expedition 56 commander Drew Feustel and flight engineers Ricky Arnold of NASA and Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos. The crew 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 study ultra-cold quantum gases, the first commercial European facility to conduct microgravity research, and a system that uses surface forces to accomplish liquid-liquid separation.

 Feustel, Arnold and Artemyev are scheduled to remain aboard the station until October, while Auñón-Chancellor, Gerst and Prokopyev are slated to return to Earth in December.

 For launch coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get breaking news, images and features from the station on Instagram at: @iss and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

Countdown Under Way for Launch of Three Station Crew Members

Expedition 56 crew members
Expedition 56 crew members Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA (left), Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos (center) and Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency (right) pose for pictures in their Russian Sokol launch and entry suits in front of the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft.

At the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor, Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency), and Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos are preparing for their launch to the International Space Station. Their journey to the station will begin with a lift off at 7:12 a.m. EDT Wednesday (4:12 p.m. in Baikonur). Live launch coverage will begin at 6:15 a.m. EDT on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

The three will join Expedition 56 commander Drew Feustel and flight engineers Ricky Arnold of NASA and Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos. The Expedition 56 crew members will contribute to more than 250 experiments in fields such as biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences and technology development.

Below is the crew’s launch timeline in EDT:

EDT          L-Hr/M/Sec   Event

10:12:41pm        9:00        Crew wakeup at Cosmonaut Hotel (June 5)
1:12:41am        6:00        Crew departs Cosmonaut Hotel
1:27:41am        5:45        Batteries installed in booster
1:57:41am        5:15        Crew arrives at Site 254
2:12:41am        5:00        Tanking begins
2:42:41am        4:30        Crew suit up
3:07:41am        4:05        Booster loaded with liquid Oxygen
3:42:41am        3:30        Crew meets family members on other side of the glass
4:07:41am        3:05        First and second stage oxygen fueling complete
4:12:41am        3:00        Crew walkout from 254 and boards bus for the launch pad
4:17:41am        2:55        Crew departs for launch pad (Site 1)
4:37:41am        2:35        Crew arrives at launch pad (Site 1)
4:47:41am        2:25        Crew boards Soyuz; strapped in to the Descent module
5:37:41am        1:35        Descent module hardware tested
5:52:41am        1:20        Hatch closed; leak checks begin
6:12:41am        1:00        Launch vehicle control system prep; gyro activation
6:15:00am     :57:41        NASA TV LAUNCH COVERAGE BEGINS
6:27:41am        :45:00        Pad service structure components lowered
6:28:41am        :44:00        Clamshell gantry service towers retracted
6:30:00am        :42:41        NASA TV: Crew pre-launch activities played (B-roll)
6:35:41am        :37:00        Suit leak checks begin; descent module testing complete
6:38:41am        :34:00       Emergency escape system armed
6:57:41am        :15:00       Suit leak checks complete; escape system to auto
7:02:41am        :10:00        Gyros in flight readiness and recorders activated
7:05:41am        :07:00        Pre-launch operations complete
7:06:41am        :06:00        Launch countdown operations to auto; vehicle ready
7:07:41am        :05:00        Commander’s controls activated
7:08:41am        :04:00        Combustion chamber nitrogen purge
7:09:41am        :03:00        Propellant drainback
7:09:56am        :02:45        Booster propellant tank pressurization
7:11:11am        :01:30        Ground propellant feed terminated
7:11:41am        :01:00        Vehicle to internal power
7:12:06am        :00:35        First umbilical tower separates
Auto sequence start
7:12:11am        :00:30        Ground umbilical to third stage disconnected
7:12:26am        :00:15        Second umbilical tower separates
7:12:29am        :00:12        Launch command issued
Engine Start Sequence Begins
7:12:31am        :00:10        Engine turbo pumps at flight speed
7:12:36am        :00:05        Engines at maximum thrust
7:12:41am        :00:00        LAUNCH OF SOYUZ MS-09 TO THE ISS
7:21:26am        +8:45        THIRD STAGE SHUTDOWN; SOYUZ ORBITAL INSERTION

For launch coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get breaking news, images and features from the station on Instagram at: @iss and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

Rocket Ready to Blast Off New Crew Wednesday Morning

Soyuz MS-09 Rocket
The Soyuz MS-09 rocket is pictured standing at its launch pad on a clear blue day at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The Soyuz rocket that will launch three new Expedition 56-57 crew members to the International Space Station stands at its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Soyuz Commander Sergey Prokopyev and Flight Engineers Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Alexander Gerst are in quarantine today preparing to blast off Wednesday at 7:12 a.m. EDT on a two-day trip to the station. Live NASA TV coverage begins at 6:15 a.m.

The trio representing Roscosmos, NASA and the European Space Agency will orbit Earth for two days before arriving at the station’s Rassvet module Friday at 9:07 a.m. The crew will enter its new home after the hatches open around 11:30 a.m. to begin a six-month mission aboard the orbital laboratory. NASA TV will begin its live docking coverage Friday starting at 8:15 a.m.

Three veteran station residents will greet the newcomers Wednesday when Expedition 56 grows to its full complement of six team members. Station Commander Drew Feustel and Flight Engineers Ricky Arnold and Oleg Artemyev have been living in space since March 21 and will help familiarize their new crewmates with station systems and safety procedures.

Meanwhile, the three orbiting Expedition 56 crewmates managed to work on scientific gear and prepare for next week’s spacewalk. Feustel cleaned samples cartridges inside the Electro-Static Levitation Furnace as Arnold readied the Plant Habitat-01 for upcoming botany research. The duo also assembled and tested spacewalking gear ahead of a June 14 spacewalk to install wireless communications gear on the Harmony module.

Crew Returns to Earth as Another Prepares for Launch

The Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft is seen as it lands
The Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft is seen as it lands with three Expedition 55 crew members after 168 days in space. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Three crew members who have been living and working aboard the International Space Station have landed safely in Kazakhstan.

NASA astronaut Scott Tingle, Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos landed at 8:39 a.m. EDT (6:39 p.m. in Kazakhstan) southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan.

The crew completed hundreds of experiments during their 168-day stay aboard the station. Highlights from this research include materials testing, a study of the effect of microgravity on the bone marrow, and research into plant growth in space.

The crew also welcomed four cargo spacecraft delivering several tons of supplies and research experiments A SpaceX Dragon spacecraft arrived at the station in December, followed by another Dragon in April and Orbital ATK’s Cygnus resupply spacecraft in May. A Russian Progress cargo craft arrived at the station in February.

Tingle and Kanai logged 168 days in space on their first missions. Tingle and Kanai ventured outside the station on separate spacewalks to perform work on parts of the Canadarm2 robotic arm. They also participated in dozens of educational events as part of NASA’s Year of Education on Station.

Shkaplerov conducted one record-setting spacewalk with fellow cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin to replace an electronics box for a high-gain communications antenna on the Zvezda service module. The spacewalk timed out at 8 hours and 13 minutes, the longest in Russian space program history. Shkaplerov now has spent 552 days in space on his three flights.

The Expedition 56 crew – Commander Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold of NASA, and Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos – will operate the station and prepare for the arrival of three new crew members on Friday, June 8. Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA, Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency), and Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos are scheduled to launch Wednesday, June 6, from Baikonur, Kazakhstan. NASA Television will broadcast the launch and docking. NASA Television will broadcast the launch and docking.

Coverage of Expedition 56 launch activities will be as follows (all times EDT):

Wednesday, June 6

  • 6:15 a.m. – Soyuz MS-09 launch coverage (launch at 7:12 a.m.)

Friday, June 8

  • 8:15 a.m. – Docking coverage (docking scheduled for 9:07 a.m.)
  • 10:30 a.m. – Hatch opening and welcome coverage

A full complement of video of the crew’s prelaunch activities in Baikonur will air on NASA TV in the days preceding launch.

For more information about the International Space Station, visit www.nasa.gov/station.

Expedition 55 Trio Undocks, Begins Ride to Earth

Expedition 55 crew members
Expedition 55 crew members Anton Shkaplerov, Norishige Kanai and Scott Tingle pause for a final portrait before entering their Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft for the ride home. Credit: @OlegMKS

Expedition 55 Flight Engineers Scott Tingle of NASA and Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos undocked from the International Space Station at 5:16 a.m. EDT to begin their trip home.

Deorbit burn is scheduled for approximately 7:47 a.m., with landing in Kazakhstan targeted for 8:40 a.m. (6:40 p.m. Kazakhstan time). NASA TV coverage will resume at 7:15 a.m. for deorbit burn and landing coverage.

At the time of undocking, Expedition 56 will begin formally aboard the station, with Commander Drew Feustel of NASA, NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold and Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos comprising a three-person crew for several days.

At the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos, Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA and Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) are preparing to launch in the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft Wednesday, June 6, on a two-day journey to dock to the station.

For more information about the International Space Station, visit www.nasa.gov/station.

Crew to Swap Command Before Return to Earth

Expedition 55 Crew Portrait
The six member Expedition 55 crew poses for a portrait in the Japanese Kibo laboratory module. Clockwise from left are Flight Engineers Norishige Kanai, Ricky Arnold, Drew Feustel, Oleg Artemyev and Scott Tingle. In the center is International Space Station Commander Anton Shkaplerov.

Three Expedition 55 crew members are returning to Earth Sunday, but first the Commander will hand over control of the International Space Station in a ceremony Friday afternoon. In the meantime, the crew managed to continue ongoing space research and station maintenance.

Cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, who has been leading the station crew since February, will turn over command of the orbital laboratory to NASA astronaut Drew Feustel during the traditional Change of Command Ceremony at 2:25 p.m. EDT Friday live on NASA TV.

Next, the International Space Station Program turns its attention to the undocking Sunday at 5:16 a.m. of Shkaplerov with crewmates Scott Tingle and Norishige Kanai inside the Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft. The trio will parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan at 8:40 a.m. (6:40 p.m. Kazakh time) after 168 days in space. NASA TV begins it live coverage starting at 1:30 a.m. when the crew says farewell and closes the hatches to their Soyuz vehicle.

Feustel worked throughout Thursday installing improved communications gear inside Europe’s Columbus lab module. Flight Engineer Ricky Arnold strapped himself into an exercise bike to research how exercising in microgravity affects the human body.