Astronauts Relax after Busy March, Cosmonauts Get Used to Station Life

Astronaut Matthias Maurer is pictured during a spacewalk on March 23, to install thermal gear and electronics components on the orbiting lab.
Astronaut Matthias Maurer is pictured during a spacewalk on March 23, to install thermal gear and electronics components on the orbiting lab.

Four Expedition 67 astronauts, who have been aboard the International Space Station since November, kicked off the weekend with a light duty day today following a pair of spacewalks and a crew swap in March. The orbiting lab’s newest crewmates, three Flight Engineers from Roscosmos, stayed busy with their science and maintenance tasks.

March was a busy month in space that saw two spacewalks, the arrival of three new cosmonauts, and finally the departure of three crewmates officially ending Expedition 66. Three NASA astronauts and one ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut took a well-deserved break on Friday following the intense period aboard the orbiting lab.

NASA Flight Engineers Kayla Barron and Raja Chari conducted the first spacewalk on March 15. Chari then joined ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer on March 23 for another spacewalk. The spacewalks were dedicated to preparing the space station for its third roll-out solar array and installing electronics and communications gear.

On March 18, the crew welcomed cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Sergey Korsakov, and Denis Matveev, when they docked in their Soyuz MS-21 crew ship almost three-and-a-half hours after launching from Kazakhstan. Expedition 66 ended on March 30 when the Soyuz MS-19 crew ship undocked returning NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov back to Earth just four hours later.

In the station Russian segment today, Artemyev and Matveev set up the Poisk module’s airlock for future spacewalk work planned for the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module. Korsakov worked in Zvezda service module performing preventative maintenance on the ventilation system. The cosmonauts also continued getting familiar with space station systems two weeks into their six-and-a-half-month mission.


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

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Trio Set to Go Home Wednesday; First Private Astronaut Mission Nears

The Soyuz MS-19 crew ship, in between the Cygnus cargo craft and the Prichal module, that will take three Expedition 66 crewmates home is pictured docked to the Rassvet module. It was pictured before the Soyuz MS-21 crew ship docked to Prichal on March 18.
The Soyuz MS-19 crew ship, in between the Cygnus cargo craft and the Prichal module, that will take three Expedition 66 crewmates home is pictured docked to the Rassvet module. It was pictured before the Soyuz MS-21 crew ship docked to Prichal on March 18.

Three Expedition 66 Flight Engineers are returning to Earth in less than two days as four private astronauts prepare for their mission to the International Space Station. The crew activities haven’t stopped the ongoing space research as the orbital residents studied biology, botany, and physics on Monday.

NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei is nearing the end of his mission as he prepares to return to Earth on Wednesday after a NASA-record breaking 355 days in space. Soyuz Commander Anton Shkaplerov will lead Vande Hei and Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov inside the Soyuz MS-19 crew ship when they undock from the Rassvet module at 3:21 a.m. EDT on Wednesday. The trio will parachute to a landing just over four hours later.

The next mission to the orbiting lab will be the Axiom Space-1 mission, or Ax-1, carrying a former NASA astronaut and three U.S. crew members. Commander Michael Lopez-Alegria will be making his fifth visit to space and his third visit to the space station while commanding the first private mission for Axiom Space. He will lead first time space visitors Pilot Larry Connor and Mission Specialists Eytan Stibbe and Mark Pathy aboard Endeavour, during the vehicle’s second mission to the station.

NASA teams supporting the Artemis I mission polled “go” today to proceed with the wet dress rehearsal, planned for Friday, April 1, through Sunday, April 3, on Launch Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA, Axiom and SpaceX are now looking at no earlier than April 6 for the launch of Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1), the first  private astronaut mission to the International Space Station, pending range approval. For an April 6 launch, Ax-1 static fire would take place April 4. NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission remains scheduled to launch no earlier than Tuesday, April 19.

Science is always ongoing aboard the station whether its crew members tending to experiments, or scientists uploading commands, or even investigations that are designed to run autonomously.

Monday’s research program aboard the station covered human research, space botany and glass optics. NASA Flight Engineers Raja Chari and Kayla Barron helped researchers understand how astronauts manipulate objects possibly informing the design of spacecraft interfaces for a variety of gravity environments. The duo also joined astronauts Tom Marshburn of NASA and Matthias Maurer of ESA (European Space Agency) for a standard vision test using an eye chart.

Chari also harvested cotton cultures grown for the Plant Habitat-05 experiment and prepared them for return analysis back on Earth. Marshburn serviced samples for a physics study exploring using artificial intelligence to improve the development of advanced glass optics with implications for Earth and space industries.

The orbiting lab’s three newest crew members spent the day on a variety of activities in the Russian segment including an exercise study, ventilation maintenance, and station familiarization activities. Cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Sergey Korsakov, and Denis Matveev are in the second week of a six-and-a-half-month mission that began on March 18.

After successfully completing a spacewalk March 23 at the International Space Station, a thin layer of water was discovered on the inner surface of the helmet and on an absorption pad inside ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer’s helmet following airlock re-pressurization. The water found was more than normal. The space station crew expedited Maurer’s helmet removal and then gathered data in coordination with ground support teams. The space station team is looking into the cause, and any possible fixes that might be needed. The station crew members remain in good health, and they are continuing their daily activities of science and maintenance. Key objectives were completed during the spacewalk, and there are no planned U.S operating segment spacewalks in the near future as a part of normal station operations. Crew safety is a top priority for NASA. The agency and our international partners are constantly identifying and mitigating risks of human spaceflight.

Station Nears Crew Departure and First Private Astronaut Mission

Astronaut Matthias Maurer is pictured during a spacewalk to install thermal gear and electronics components on the space station as it orbited 268 miles above the Pacific Ocean.
Astronaut Matthias Maurer is pictured during a spacewalk to install thermal gear and electronics components on the space station as it orbited 268 miles above the Pacific Ocean.

The Expedition 66 crew is turning its attention to the departure of three crew members late next week following the completion of a pair of spacewalks. The International Space Station is also gearing up to welcome the first private astronaut mission aboard a SpaceX Dragon vehicle in early April.

Two astronauts had medical checkups and a light duty day today following Wednesday’s spacewalk to install thermal gear and electronics components on the orbiting lab. Flight Engineers Raja Chari and Matthias Maurer spent a few moments Thursday morning getting blood pressure, temperature, and heart rate and breathing checks. The duo spent six hours and 54 minutes on Wednesday working outside the orbital lab readying it for a third roll-out solar array and connecting cables to the Bartolomeo science platform on the Columbus laboratory module. They were joined Thursday afternoon by NASA astronauts Kayla Barron and Tom Marshburn for a conference with spacewalk specialists on the ground.

The four astronauts also called down to mission controllers and discussed the upcoming private astronaut mission from Axiom currently targeted for launch no earlier than April 3. NASA, SpaceX, and Axiom mission managers will hold a media teleconference one hour after NASA’s Flight Readiness Review, or approximately Friday at 6 p.m. EDT following their flight readiness review. Former NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria will command the Axiom-1 mission with Pilot Larry Connor and Mission Specialists Eytan Stibbe and Mark Pathy aboard the SpaceX Dragon Endeavour vehicle.

In the meantime, NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei is nearing his return to Earth with cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov on March 30. The trio will enter the Soyuz MS-19 crew ship, undock from the Rassvet module, and parachute to landing in Kazakhstan. Vande Hei will land with a NASA-record breaking 355 days in space surpassing former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly’s single spaceflight record of 340 days.

Shkaplerov continued packing the Soyuz MS-19 crew ship while Dubrov helped the station’s three newest crew members get familiar with space station systems. Veteran cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev with first time space-flyers Sergey Korsakov and Denis Matveev are in the first week of six-and-a-half month mission that began on March 18 when they arrived aboard the Soyuz MS-21 crew ship.


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

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Station Go for Spacewalk Ahead of Upcoming Crew Departure

(From left) Astronauts Raja Chari and Matthias Maurer will exit the space station on Wednesday for a 6.5-hour maintenance spacewalk.
(From left) Astronauts Raja Chari and Matthias Maurer will exit the space station on Wednesday for a 6.5-hour maintenance spacewalk.

Mission managers have given the go for two astronauts to exit the International Space Station on Wednesday for a six-and-a-half-hour spacewalk. Meanwhile, three Expedition 66 crew members are getting ready for their return to Earth at the end of the month.

Flight Engineers Raja Chari of NASA and Matthias Maurer of ESA (European Space Agency) began Tuesday morning with standard medical checkups the day before their spacewalk. The duo had an ear exam and measured heart and breathing rate, blood pressure, and temperature. Afterward, Chari and Maurer staged their U.S. spacesuits and readied their spacewalking tools inside the U.S. Quest airlock.

During the afternoon, the spacewalking pair were joined by NASA astronauts Kayla Barron and Tom Marshburn for a procedures review with engineers on the ground. Barron and Marshburn will also be on robotics duty commanding the Canadarm2 robotics arm to assist the spacewalkers during Wednesday’s excursion. Chari and Maurer set their spacesuits to battery power at 8:50 a.m. EDT signifying the start of their spacewalk. Their main objective is to install thermal system and electronics components on the outside of the space station. Live NASA TV coverage begins at 7:30 a.m. on NASA Television, the NASA app and the agency’s website.

The next major event at the orbital lab will be on March 30 when NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei returns to Earth with Roscosmos cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov. The trio will undock from the Rassvet module inside the Soyuz MS-19 crew ship and parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan about three-and-a-half hours later. The two cosmonauts practiced Soyuz descent procedures and loaded cargo and personal items inside the vehicle. Vande Hei, who will land with a NASA-record breaking 355 continuous days in space, focused mainly on science today studying space archeology and glass optics.

The station’s three newest crew members are in their first full week on the orbiting lab and continue their station familiarization activities. Cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev, on his third space station mission, and first time space-flyers Sergey Korsakov and Denis Matveev will spend the next few days getting used to life on orbit.


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

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Expanded Station Crew Busy with Spacewalk Preps, Space Research

The Soyuz MS-21 crew ship (upper left) with three cosmonauts aboard approaches the space station for a docking on March 18.
The Soyuz MS-21 crew ship (upper left) with three cosmonauts aboard approaches the space station for a docking on March 18.

The International Space Station is hosting 10 individuals after the Soyuz MS-21 crew ship arrived Friday carrying three new crew members. As the new crewmates adjust to life on the station, the rest of the Expedition 66 crew is getting ready for a spacewalk and continuing microgravity research this week.

The station’s three newest crew members are getting used to life on orbit as they begin a six-and-a-half-month mission in Earth orbit. Cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Sergey Korsakov, and Denis Matveev docked to the station’s Prichal module on Friday less than three-and-a-half hours after launching from Kazakhstan. Artemyev is starting his third mission at the orbiting lab having last visited in 2018 when he was an Expedition 55-56 Flight Engineer. Korsakov and Matveev are on their first space flight and will spend the next few days getting up to speed with station systems and safety procedures.

Two astronauts are getting ready for a spacewalk set to begin on Wednesday at 8:50 a.m. EDT. NASA astronaut Raja Chari and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer will spend about six-and-a-half hours installing new thermal system and electronics components on the station’s U.S. segment. The duo spent Monday organizing their spacewalk tools and attaching checklists to their U.S. spacesuit cuffs.

NASA Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei and Kayla Barron were on science duty on Monday working on a pair of different experiments. Vande Hei explored how microbes grow in space to keeps crews healthy and spacecraft systems safe. Barron serviced samples for the Hicari crystal growth study that seeks to improve the development of solar cells and semiconductor-based electronics.

NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn spent the day on a variety of orbital plumbing and life support maintenance tasks. He also joined Chari for a conference with mission controllers as they plan to return to Earth with Barron and Maurer aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endurance next month.

Commander Anton Shkaplerov and Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov continued evaluating a specialized suit, the lower body negative pressure suit, for its ability to counteract the effects of weightlessness on the human body. Doctors are studying the suit’s ability to offset space-caused head and eye pressure by drawing fluids toward the legs and feet while expanding veins and tissues.


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

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Soyuz Trio Docks to Station, NASA Astronaut Nears Departure

The Soyuz MS-21 crew ship with three cosmonauts aboard approaches the Prichal module for a docking in this view from the space station. Credit: NASA TV
The Soyuz MS-21 crew ship with three cosmonauts aboard approaches the Prichal module for a docking in this view from the space station. Credit: NASA TV

Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev, and Sergey Korsakov on the Soyuz MS-21 spacecraft docked to the International Space Station at 3:12 p.m. EDT while the station was traveling 260 miles over eastern Kazakhstan. Coverage of hatch opening will air at 5:15 p.m. on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

Once on station, the trio will join Expedition 66 Commander Anton Shkaplerov and cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov of Roscosmos, as well as NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei, Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, and Kayla Barron, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer.

On March 30, a Soyuz spacecraft will return as scheduled carrying NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and cosmonauts Pyotr Dubrov and Anton Shkaplerov back to Earth. Upon their return, Vande Hei will hold the American record for the longest single human spaceflight mission of 355 days.


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

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Russian Trio Launches on Express Trip to Station

The Soyuz MS-21 rocket lifts off on time from Kazakhstan carrying three cosmonauts to the space station.
The Soyuz MS-21 rocket lifts off on time from Kazakhstan carrying three cosmonauts to the space station.

Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev, and Sergey Korsakov are safely in orbit on the Soyuz MS-21 spacecraft after launching at 11:55 a.m. EDT from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan (8:55 p.m. Baikonur time).

The Soyuz will dock to the station’s Prichal module at 3:05 p.m. About two hours after docking, hatches between the Soyuz and the station will open.

NASA TV coverage of docking will begin at 2:15 p.m. on NASA Television, the NASA app and the agency’s website.


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

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Russian Crew Launching on Soyuz Rocket Today

Soyuz MS-21 crew members (from left) Sergey Korsakov, Oleg Artemyev, and Denis Matveev pose for a portrait at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Russia.
Soyuz MS-21 crew members (from left) Sergey Korsakov, Oleg Artemyev, and Denis Matveev pose for a portrait at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Russia.

NASA TV coverage now is underway for the launch of a crewed Russian Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Station with Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev, and Sergey Korsakov. The Soyuz MS-21 spacecraft will launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 11:55 a.m. EDT (8:55 p.m. Baikonur time). Launch and docking activities will air live on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

After a three-hour and 10-minute flight, the Soyuz will dock to the station’s Prichal module at 3:05 p.m. About two hours after docking, hatches between the Soyuz and the station will open.

Once on station, the trio will join Expedition 66 Commander Anton Shkaplerov and cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov of Roscosmos, as well as NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei, Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, and Kayla Barron, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer.

Coverage is as follows (all times Eastern):

Friday, March 18

11:15 a.m. – NASA TV coverage begins for 11:55 a.m. launch

2:15 p.m. – NASA TV coverage begins for 3:05 p.m. docking

5:15 p.m. – NASA TV coverage begins for hatch opening


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

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Station Gets Ready for New Crew and Next Spacewalk

Astronaut Tom Marshburn of NASA (center) assists NASA astronaut Raja Chari (from left) and ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer during their U.S. spacesuit fit check.
Astronaut Tom Marshburn of NASA (center) assists NASA astronaut Raja Chari (from left) and ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer during their U.S. spacesuit fit check.

A new trio awaits its launch to join the Expedition 66 crew on Friday while two astronauts are preparing for next week’s spacewalk. Human research rounded out the science schedule aboard the International Space Station on Thursday.

Three cosmonauts are counting down to their lift off aboard the Soyuz MS-21 crew ship at 11:55 a.m. EDT on Friday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Soyuz Commander Oleg Artemyev will lead first-time space-flyers Denis Matveev and Sergey Korsakov on a three-hour and 10-minute ride to the Prichal module where they will dock beginning a six-and-a-half-month mission aboard the station. NASA TV, on the app and the website, will begin its live mission coverage of the crew launch and docking activities at 11:15 a.m. on Friday.

Meanwhile, a second spacewalk is scheduled for Wednesday, March 23, for more upgrades at the orbiting lab. Flight Engineers Raja Chari of NASA and Matthias Maurer of ESA (European Space Agency) will set their spacesuits to battery power at 8:50 a.m. signifying the start of their spacewalk. The duo will spend about six-and-a-half-hours installing new thermal system and electronics components. NASA TV will begin its live spacewalk coverage at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

The spacewalking pair was joined Thursday afternoon by NASA Flight Engineers Kayla Barron and Tom Marshburn reviewing robotics procedures necessary to support the astronauts during next week’s external maintenance job. Chari and Maurer also spent Thursday organizing their spacewalking tools and resizing their U.S. spacesuits.

NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei worked inside the Kibo laboratory module setting up a small satellite deployer. In the afternoon, Vande Hei studied the effectiveness of detergents in microgravity then strapped sensors to himself to measure his performance during an exercise study.

Commander Anton Shkaplerov and Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov continued evaluating a specialized suit, the lower body negative pressure suit, for its ability to counteract the effects of weightlessness on the human body. Doctors are studying the suit’s ability to offset space-caused head and eye pressure by drawing fluids toward the legs and feet while expanding veins and tissues.

Next Crew Launch Set for Friday Following Tuesday’s Spacewalk

NASA spacewalker Raja Chari is pictured tethered to the space station with the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endurance behind him and the Atlantic coast of South America 268 miles below.
NASA spacewalker Raja Chari is pictured tethered to the space station with the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endurance behind him and the Atlantic coast of South America 268 miles below.

The International Space Station is set to welcome three new crewmates who are set to launch on Friday and arrive just over three hours later. In the meantime, the seven-member Expedition 66 crew turned its attention to science duties following Tuesday’s successful spacewalk.

The next crew ship to launch toward the orbiting lab has rolled out and now stands at the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch pad in Kazakhstan. The Soyuz MS-21 spacecraft is counting down to lift off on Friday at 11:55 a.m. EDT. It will carry three cosmonauts on a three-hour and 10-minute ride to the station where it will dock to the Prichal module. Veteran cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev, with first-time station visitors Denis Matveev and Sergey Korsakov, will open the hatch about an two-and-a-half hours later and begin a six-and-a-half-month mission aboard the space station. NASA TV, on the app and the website, will begin its live launch coverage at 11:15 a.m. on Friday.

Two NASA astronauts, Kayla Barron and Raja Chari, had a light schedule on Wednesday following Tuesday’s six-hour and 54-minute spacewalk to set up the station for its next roll-out solar array. The pair started the day with standard post-spacewalk medical exams looking at their hands, ears, blood pressure, and temperature. Barron then worked late in the afternoon in the Kibo laboratory module setting up the Confocal Microscope that looks at biological samples using spatial filtering techniques. Chari wrapped up his day charging the U.S. spacesuit’s lithium-ion batteries.

Flight Engineers Tom Marshburn of NASA and Matthias Maurer of ESA (European Space Agency) teamed up for a muscle study taking place in the Columbus laboratory module on Wednesday. The astronauts took turns measuring each other’s neck, back, and leg muscles to learn how microgravity affects their biochemical properties. NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei serviced microbe samples growing inside a specialized incubator for the Space Biofilms study that could improve spacecraft safety and crew health.

In the station’s Russian segment, two cosmonauts, Commander Anton Shkaplerov and Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov, packed gear and prepared for their return to Earth on March 30. Shkaplerov will lead the ride home flanked by Dubrov and Vande Hei inside the Soyuz MS-19 crew ship. Vande Hei surpassed NASA astronaut Scott Kelly’s single spaceflight record of 340 days on March 15 and will land in Kazakhstan with a NASA record-breaking 355 days in space.