Live launch coverage is underway on NASA Television and the agency’s website for the targeted lift off at 3:14 p.m. EDT (12:14 a.m. March 15 Kazakhstan time) of a Soyuz spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch, and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos will begin a six-hour journey to the International Space Station.
The three will join NASA astronaut Anne McClain, station commander Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos, and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency. The crew members will continue important research experiments in fields such as biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences and technology development.
At the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, teams are making final preparations for the launch of NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch, and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos, to the International Space Station. Their journey to the station will begin with a lift off at 3:14 p.m. EDT (12:14 a.m. March 15 Kazakhstan time). Live launch coverage will begin at 2 p.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
The trio’s arrival will return the orbiting laboratory’s population to six, including three NASA astronauts. This launch will also mark the fourth Expedition crew with two female astronauts. The three will join station commander Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos, NASA astronaut Anne McClain, and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency. The new crew members will dock to the Rassvet module at 9:07 p.m. Expedition 59 will begin officially at the time of docking.
Hague and Ovchinin are completing a journey that was cut short Oct. 11, when a booster separation problem with their Soyuz rocket’s first stage triggered a launch abort two minutes into the flight. They landed safely a few minutes later, after reaching the fringes of space, and were reassigned to fly again after McClain, Kononenko and Saint-Jacques launched in early December. This will be Ovchinin’s third flight into space, the second for Hague and the first for Koch. Hague, Koch, and McClain are from NASA’s 2013 astronaut class, half of which were women—the highest percentage of female astronaut candidates ever selected for a class.
Below is the crew’s launch timeline in EDT:
Thursday, March 14
6:14:09am 9:00 Crew wakeup at Cosmonaut Hotel
9:14:09am 6:00 Crew departs Cosmonaut Hotel
9:29:09am 5:45 Batteries installed in booster
9:59:09am 5:15 Crew arrives at Site 254
10:14:09am 5:00 Tanking begins
10:44:09am 4:30 Crew suit up
11:09:09am 4:05 Booster loaded with liquid Oxygen
11:44:09am 3:30 Crew meets family members on other side of the glass
12:09:09pm 3:05 First and second stage oxygen fueling complete
12:14:09pm 3:00 Crew walkout from 254 and boards bus for the launch pad
12:19:09pm 2:55 Crew departs for launch pad (Site 1)
12:39:09pm 2:35 Crew arrives at launch pad (Site 1)
12:49:09pm 2:25 Crew boards Soyuz; strapped in to the Descent module
1:39:09pm 1:35 Descent module hardware tested
1:54:09pm 1:20 Hatch closed; leak checks begin
2:00:00pm 1:14:09 NASA TV LAUNCH COVERAGE BEGINS
2:14:09pm 1:00 Launch vehicle control system prep; gyro activation
2:15:00pm :59:09 NASA TV: Crew pre-launch activities B-roll played)
2:29:09pm :45:00 Pad service structure components lowered
2:30:09pm :44:00 Clamshell gantry service towers retracted
NASA astronaut Anne McClain floated through the Tranquility and Zvezda service modules, deploying acoustic monitors. She paused in the U.S. lab at an EXPRESS rack to install communications gear and perform additional maintenance. David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency also worked with EXPRESS today, moving Space Automated BioproductLabs from rack-1 to rack-2. This miniature laboratory within the larger orbiting laboratory supports life science research, hosting microorganisms (bacteria, yeast, algae, fungi, viruses, etc.), small organisms, animal cells, tissue cultures and small plants for evaluation in space.
Today in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch, and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos, were certified for flight by the Russian state commission and held their final news conference.
Tomorrow, the soon-to-be station residents will hitch a ride aboard a Soyuz MS-12 for blastoff at 3:14 p.m. EDT on, coincidentally, 3/14. After a relatively speedy six-hour flight, the Soyuz is expected to dock to station’s Rassvet module at 9:07 p.m. Expedition 59 will begin officially at the time of docking.
The events will unfold live on NASA TV, with launch coverage beginning at 2 p.m. and docking coverage at 8:15 p.m., respectively. After a brief break, tune in at 10:30 p.m. for the hatch opening and welcome, which will return the orbiting laboratory’s population to six—including three NASA astronauts. And, just in time for Women’s History Month, this launch marks the fourth Expedition crew with two female astronauts.
NASA astronaut Anne McClain conducted botany work with the VEG-03 experiment, which builds on what scientists have initially learned about harvesting vegetation in space with VEG-01. This time around, testing will demonstrate plant growth with a new batch of crops, including red romaine lettuce, extra dwarf Pak Choi, red Russian kale and wasabi mustard. McClain also spent time on life-support system upkeep in the Kibo lab module and maintenance in the U.S. lab on an EXPRESS rack—hardware integral to providing structural interfaces and support for science experiments with power, data, cooling, water and other items needed for successful operations.
In the Quest airlock, Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques completed additional prep work for upcoming spacewalks slated for March 22, 29 and April 8 by scrubbing cooling loops and performing leak checks on the spacesuits. After resupplying the Human Research Facility-2 rack, Saint Jacques added input to a questionnaire for Behavioral Core Measures, an investigation that seeks to create a standardized toolkit to rapidly and reliably assess the risk of adverse cognitive or behavioral conditions and psychiatric disorders that could occur with longer space missions.
This Monday, the Expedition 58 crew is taking a well-deserved break after a busy week prior wrapping up SpaceX’s inaugural flight of Crew Dragon to the International Space Station during Demonstration Mission-1, an uncrewed flight test. The vehicle departed station for a splashdown off the Florida Space Coast at 8:45 a.m. EST Friday, bringing NASA even closer to sending astronauts into space from American soil.
The Expedition 59 crew, which will soon get their turn in orbit, is taking time to relax and review their launch day flight plan at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. On March 14, Commander Alexey Ovchinin and Flight Engineers Nick Hague and Christina Koch are set to blastoff at 3:14 p.m. EDT and dock less than six hours later to the Rassvet module at the orbiting laboratory. Research investigations will get a boost in productivity with their arrival, which will bring the full crew complement to six. All launch and docking events will be carried live on NASA TV.
Tomorrow, the Soyuz MS-12 that will carry the new crew crawls to the launch pad at Baikonur as Expedition 58 resumes science studies.
The Expedition 58 crew explored space exercise and checked out biology hardware today aboard the International Space Station. The space residents supplemented their research activities and kept the orbital lab systems in tip-top shape.
Daily exercise in space is important so astronauts can fight muscle and bone loss caused by living in weightlessness. Doctors are seeking to optimize workouts for crews to stay in shape for strenuous activities like spacewalks, returning to Earth and adjusting to gravity.
Anne McClain of NASA contributed to that research today strapping into an exercise bike while attached to breathing tubes and sensors. Scientists measured her breathing and aerobic capacity to understand the effects of microgravity on pulmonary function and physical exertion.
The commander, Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos, worked primarily in the station’s Russian segment beginning the day working on life support gear. The highly experienced cosmonaut then moved onto space navigation research before charging the emergency phone inside the Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft.
A Russian Progress 70 (70P) cargo craft undocked from the International Space Station today at 7:55 a.m. EST loaded with trash and discarded gear. It will orbit Earth a few more hours before reentering the Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean for a fiery but safe destruction.
The Progress delivered three tons of food, fuel and supplies to the station crew members on July 9. It was the first two-orbit rendezvous in International Space Station history.
Today’s departure leaves three spaceships attached to the orbital lab including Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter and Russia’s Progress 71 resupply ship and Soyuz MS-11 crew ship. Cygnus is due to complete its mission when it departs from the station’s Unity module on Feb. 8.
The unlikely emergency scenarios the crew trains for include events such as depressurization, ammonia leaks and fires. Responses include quickly donning safety gear, closing a module hatch to isolate pressure and ammonia leaks, extinguishing a fire and evacuating the station aboard the Soyuz crew ship.
McClain then moved on to cable and parts work on the Multi-Purpose Small Payload Rack (MSPR) that can house a variety of smaller experiments. She wrapped up the day photographing Saint-Jacques as he installed neutron detectors for an experiment to understand how space radiation impacts astronauts.
Kononenko worked today on the Electromagnetic Levitator that exposes materials to extremely high temperatures to explore their thermo-physical properties in the microgravity environment. The four-time station cosmonaut later went on to routine maintenance on life support systems in the orbital lab’s Russian segment.
Three people from the U.S., Canada and Russia are orbiting Earth today getting ready to observe Christmas and experience New Year’s Eve from space aboard the International Space Station. Back on Earth, another three station crew members have returned to their home bases just 24 hours after completing a 197-day mission aboard the orbital lab.
The first time three humans spent Christmas in space was 50 years ago in 1968 during Apollo 8 and was also the first time a crew orbited the Moon. This Christmas astronauts Anne McClain of NASA and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency with cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos will be soaring about 250 miles above the Earth’s surface in a much larger spacecraft. The Expedition 58 trio will share a traditional meal aboard the orbital lab, share gifts and call down to family during their off-duty day.
Kononenko is beginning his fourth mission on the station and will spend his second Christmas in space. McClain and Saint-Jacques are getting used to life in space for the first time and will return to Earth in June with Kononenko.
NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor returned to Houston late Thursday just one day after landing in Kazakhstan wrapping up her six-and-a-half month stay aboard the orbital lab. She parachuted to Earth inside the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft with her Expedition 57 crewmates Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) and Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos.
Auñón-Chancellor and her crewmates, Expedition 57 Commander Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) and Soyuz commander Sergey Prokopyev, launched June 6 and arrived at the space station two days later to begin their mission.
During the 197 days, they circled the globe 3,152 times, covering 83.3 million miles. This was the first flight for Auñón-Chancellor and Prokopyev and the second for Gerst, who – with a total of 362 days in orbit – now holds the flight duration record among ESA astronauts.
For the last 16 days of her mission, Auñón-Chancellor was joined by fellow NASA astronaut Anne McClain, marking the first time in which the only two U.S. astronauts on a mission were both women.
Prokopyev completed two spacewalks totaling 15 hours and 31 minutes. He and Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos launched four small technology satellites and installed an experiment during a spacewalk Aug. 15. Then during a 7 hour, 45 minute spacewalk Dec. 11, he and Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos retrieved patch samples and took digital images of a repair made to the habitation module of the Soyuz MS-09 in which the Expedition 57 trio rode home. The space station crew located and, within hours of its detection, repaired a small hole inside the Soyuz in August. The spacecraft was thoroughly checked and deemed safe for return to Earth.
Auñón-Chancellor will return home to Houston, Gerst will return to Cologne, Germany, and Prokopyev will return to Star City, Russia, following post-landing medical checks and research activities.