Station Crew Back on Earth After 197 Days in Space

The Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft
The Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft that is carrying Expedition 55/56 crew members Ricky Arnold, Drew Feustel and Oleg Artemyev is pictured seconds away from landing under a parachute in Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA TV

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

Expedition 56 Commander Drew Feustel and Flight Engineer Ricky Arnold of NASA, along with Flight Engineer and Soyuz Commander Oleg Artemyev of the Russian space agency Roscosmos landed at 7:44 a.m. EDT (5:44 p.m. in Kazakhstan) southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan.

The crew completed hundreds of experiments during its 197-day expedition. Highlights included an investigation to study ultra-cold quantum gases using the first commercial European facility for microgravity research, and a system that uses surface forces to accomplish liquid-liquid separation.

The crew also welcomed five cargo spacecraft that delivered several tons of supplies and research experiments. The 14th SpaceX Dragon arrived in April, shortly after the three crew members did, bringing supplies and equipment, and the 15th Dragon arrived in July. The ninth Northrop Grumman Cygnus resupply spacecraft arrived in May before the end of Expedition 55. A Russian Progress completed a record rapid rendezvous of less than four hours in August. And, the seventh Japanese Konotouri cargo craft arrived just a week before the Expedition 56 trio departed for home.

Both Feustel and Arnold participated in dozens of educational events while in space as part of NASA’s Year of Education on Station, reaching more than 200,000 students in 29 states. Feustel now has logged more than 226 days in space on three spaceflights, and Arnold more than 209 days on two missions.

The duo ventured outside the space station on three spacewalks to effect maintenance and upgrades during Expeditions 55 and 56. Their work included replacing and upgrading external cameras, including those that will facilitate the approach and docking of the Boeing Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon commercial crew spacecraft when they begin launching soon from American soil. The spacewalkers also replaced components of the space station’s cooling system and communications network, and installed new wireless communication antennas for external experiments. Feustel has accumulated 61 hours and 48 minutes over nine career spacewalks, and ranks third overall among American astronauts. Arnold has 32 hours and 4 minutes over five career spacewalks.

Artemyev conducted one spacewalk with fellow cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev to manually launch four small technology satellites and install an experiment called Icarus onto the Russian segment of the space station. The spacewalk timed out at 7 hours and 46 minutes, the longest in Russian space program history. Artemyev now has spent 366 days in space on his two flights.

Expedition 57 continues station research and operations with a crew comprised of Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA, Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) and Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos. Gerst assumed command of the station as Feustel prepared to depart.

NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin are scheduled to launch Oct. 11 for a same-day arrival, increasing the crew size to five.

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


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Expedition 56 Trio Undocks For Trip Home

Soyuz MS-08 Spacecraft
The Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft that is returning three Expedition 56 crew members back to Earth is pictured from a space station camera just before to undocking from the Poisk module. Credit: NASA TV

Expedition 56 Commander Drew Feustel and Flight Engineer Ricky Arnold of NASA, along with Flight Engineer and Soyuz Commander Oleg Artemyev of the Russian space agency Roscosmos undocked from the International Space Station at 3:57 a.m. EDT to begin their trip home.

Deorbit burn is scheduled for approximately 6:51 a.m., with landing in Kazakhstan targeted for 7:45 a.m. (5:45 p.m. Kazakhstan time). NASA TV coverage will resume at 6:30 a.m. for deorbit burn and landing coverage.

At the time of undocking, Expedition 57 will begin formally aboard the station, with Commander Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency), NASA’s Serena Aunon-Chancellor and Roscosmos cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev comprising a three-person crew for one week.

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


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Crews Say Farewell, Close Soyuz and Station Hatches

Expedition 55-56 crew members Ricky Arnold, Oleg Artemyev and Drew Feustel
Expedition 55-56 crew members Ricky Arnold, Oleg Artemyev and Drew Feustel pose for a picture March 5, 2018 in front of their Soyuz spacecraft that launched them to space March 21, 2018.

At 1:06 a.m. EDT, the hatches were closed between the Soyuz spacecraft and the International Space Station in preparation for undocking. Expedition 56 Commander Drew Feustel and Flight Engineer Ricky Arnold of NASA, along with Flight Engineer and Soyuz Commander Oleg Artemyev of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, are scheduled to undock their Soyuz at 3:57 a.m.

Their landing in Kazakhstan is targeted for approximately 7:45 a.m. (5:45 p.m. Kazakhstan time) and will conclude a 197-day mission spanning 3,152 orbits of Earth and a journey of 83.4 million miles.

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


Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

Crews Switch Command as Trio Readies for Departure

Expedition 56 Crew Members
The six-member Expedition 56 crew gathers together for a team portrait. In the front row, from left, are NASA astronauts Serena Auñon-Chancellor, Commander Drew Fuestel and Ricky Arnold. Behind them, from left, are Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Oleg Artemyev. At the top of the group is astronaut Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency).

A European astronaut has taken command of the International Space Station for the second time since 2009. Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) accepted control of the orbital lab today from NASA astronaut and Expedition 56 Commander Drew Feustel.

Feustel is returning to Earth Thursday at 7:45 a.m. EDT with fellow crew members Ricky Arnold and Oleg Artemyev ending a 197-day stay in space. The trio will undock Thursday at 3:57 a.m. in their Soyuz MS-08 crew ship leaving behind German astronaut Gerst to begin his command with Expedition 57 Flight Engineers Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Sergey Prokopyev.

This is Gerst’s second stay aboard the space station and his first command. He is the second European to command the outpost after Belgian astronaut Frank De Winne.

NASA TV’s live coverage of the Expedition 56 departure activities begins Thursday at 12:30 a.m. when the homebound trio says goodbye and the Soyuz hatches close at 12:55 a.m. NASA TV will come back on air at 3:30 a.m. for the undocking and then return at 6:30 a.m. for the deorbit burn and landing coverage.


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U.S., German Astronauts Swapping Command Before Homecoming

Astronauts Drew Feustel and Alexander Gerst
Expedition 56 Commander Drew Feustel (left) of NASA will hand over command of the station to German astronaut Alexander Gerst of ESA.

A NASA astronaut will swap command of the International Space Station with a European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Wednesday at 10:10 a.m. live on NASA TV. Expedition 56 Commander Drew Feustel will be handing the station “keys” over to German astronaut Alexander Gerst during the traditional change of command ceremony.

Expedition 57 officially starts Thursday at 3:57 a.m. EDT when Feustel and Flight Engineer Ricky Arnold undock in the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft commanded by cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev. Gerst, ESA’s second astronaut to command the station, is remaining onboard to lead Expedition 57 Flight Engineers Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Sergey Prokopyev. The homebound trio will parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan at 7:45 a.m. (5:45 p.m. Kazakhstan time) just two orbits after undocking and 197 days in space.

Astronaut Nick Hague from NASA’s astronaut class of 2014 and veteran station cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin will be the next crew to blast off to the space station. The duo will launch Oct. 11 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome and take a six hour ride to their new home in space.

Amidst the crew departure activities today the station residents also worked space science and lab maintenance. Auñón-Chancellor worked on botany research inside the Plant Habitat located in the Columbus lab module. Gerst worked on hardware for the mobiPV study that is researching ways to increase productivity between astronauts and mission controllers. Departing astronauts Arnold and Feustel cleaned up their crew quarters.

October Starts With Crew Swap Then Spacewalks

Expedition 56 crew members Drew Feustel and Oleg Artemyev
(From left) Expedition 56 Commander Drew Feustel of NASA and Soyuz MS-08 Commander Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos practice on a computer the Soyuz descent procedures they will use when they return to Earth on Oct. 4.

October will be a busy month as a pair of crews get ready to swap places on the International Space Station followed by a pair of spacewalks. Also, Japan’s HTV-7 resupply ship is open for business and the Expedition 56 crew has begun unloading its science and supplies.

Station commander Drew Feustel is preparing to return to Earth Thursday with two of his crewmates despite a busy schedule of science and maintenance aboard the orbital lab. Cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev is packing the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft today that he will pilot back to Earth flanked by Feustel and NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold. The trio is due to land in Kazakhstan at 7:45 a.m. after 197 days in space.

Expedition 57 starts when the Soyuz MS-08 crew ship undocks Thursday at 3:57 a.m. EDT. Staying behind are Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) who will command the station with Flight Engineers Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Sergey Prokopyev until a new pair of crewmates join the following week.

NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Soyuz Commander Alexey Ovchinin will blast off Oct. 11 at 4:40 a.m. aboard the Soyuz MS-10 crew ship and take a six hour ride to their new home in space. The duo is in Kazakhstan at the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch site making final preparations for their 187 day mission.

The station is being replenished today as the crew begins offloading cargo from the HTV-7 resupply ship from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency). Robotics controllers will soon unload new lithion-ion batteries packed inside HTV-7 and install them on the truss structure to upgrade the station’s power systems. A pair of spacewalks are planned before the end of the month to complete the battery connections.

Japanese Ship Arriving Thursday; U.S., Russian Crew Leaving Next Week

Commander Drew Feustel
Commander Drew Feustel participates in an event inside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module aboard the International Space Station.

The Expedition 56 crew aboard the International Space Station awaits the arrival of new science experiments and crew supplies Thursday morning. One week later, three crew members will return to Earth after 197 days in space.

Japan’s H-II Transfer Vehicle-7 (HTV-7), also known as the “Kounotori,” is nearing the station and headed for a Thursday morning capture at 8 a.m. EDT. The HTV-7 is loaded with over five tons of science and supplies, including the new Life Sciences Glovebox and a half dozen lithium-ion batteries to upgrade the station’s power systems. NASA TV begins its live coverage of the capture activities Thursday at 6:30 a.m.

NASA astronauts Drew Feustel and Serena Auñón-Chancellor are finalizing several weeks of computer training today to capture the HTV-7. Feustel will be inside the cupola and command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture the Kounotori Thursday morning. Auñón-Chancellor will back up Feustel and monitor the Kounotori’s approach and rendezvous.

Meanwhile, Feustel and two other Expedition 56 crewmates are scheduled to depart the orbital laboratory on Oct. 4 just a week after the Kounotori arrives. Soyuz Commander Oleg Artemyev will lead the flight home inside the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft flanked by Feustel and NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold.

The three departing crewmates have been packing up crew supplies, station hardware and science experiments to take back to Earth. The trio also practiced their Soyuz descent maneuvers and prepared themselves for the effects of returning to gravity. . Once the trio departs, Expedition 57 officially begins.

NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Soyuz Commander Alexey Ovchinin will launch and arrive one week later. During Expedition 57, the crew will conduct a set of spacewalks to install the new lithium-ion batteries delivered to the station on HTV-7.

Commander Leads Japanese, Russian Spaceship Preps and BEAM Checks

Expedition 55/56 crew members inside BEAM
Expedition 55/56 crew members (from left) Ricky Arnold, Drew Feustel and Oleg Artemyev, pose for a portrait inside the Bigelow Expandable Aerospace Module (BEAM).

The Expedition 56 crew is ramping for a busy traffic period at the International Space Station during the next couple of weeks. This all comes as the orbital residents ensure BEAM’s operational life and continue ongoing microgravity science.

Japan’s seventh “Kounotori” resupply ship is nearing the orbital complex and closing in for a Thursday morning capture. Commander Drew Feustel practiced on a computer today the procedures he will use when he commands the Canadarm2 to grapple Kounotori around 8 a.m. NASA TV is broadcasting the live coverage of the HTV-7 arrival and capture starting at 6:30 a.m.

Feustel is also getting ready to return to Earth on Oct. 4 with crewmates Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos and Ricky Arnold. During the morning, the three crewmates checked the Sokol launch and entry suits they will wear when they reenter Earth’s atmosphere inside the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft.

The commander also joined Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor opening up the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) for maintenance and stowage work.The duo reinforced and stiffened struts inside BEAM to increase its safety margin and extend its operational life. They also stowed a variety of hardware inside the station’s newest module.

DNA sequencing from microbe samples is taking place onboard the station today to help scientists understand the impacts of living in space. The atomization of fluids continues to being studied potentially improving fuel efficiency on Earth and in spacecraft. A variety of space gear housing experiments and research samples was checked out today as part regularly scheduled maintenance.

Japan Delivery Due Thursday as Trio Preps Russian Spacecraft for Return

The International Space Station orbits above New Zealand.
Two docked Russian spacecraft are seen as the International Space Station orbited nearly 262 miles above New Zealand.

A Japanese cargo craft is orbiting Earth today and on its way to resupply the International Space Station. Meanwhile, the six Expedition 56 crew members are researching a variety of space phenomena as a trio prepares to return to Earth.

JAXA’s (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) resupply ship launched Saturday from Japan loaded with over five tons of new science and supplies destined for the crew. The H-II Transfer Vehicle-7 (HTV-7) is scheduled to arrive at the space station on Thursday. Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor will be in the cupola backing up Commander Drew Feustel when he captures the HTV-7 with the Canadarm2 around 8 a.m. on Thursday.

Included among the critical payloads packed inside the HTV-7 is the Life Sciences Glovebox. The new facility will enable research to advance human health on Earth and in space. HTV-7 is also delivering new lithium-ion batteries to upgrade power systems on the station’s truss structure. NASA TV begins its live coverage of the HTV-7 arrival and capture Thursday at 6:30 a.m.

Today’s science work aboard the orbital lab included looking at DNA and fluid physics. Auñón-Chancellor sequenced DNA extracted from microbial samples collected inside the station. Feustel activated gear for an experiment researching the atomization of liquids that could improve fuel efficiency on Earth and in space.

Feustel later joined his Soyuz crewmates Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos and Ricky Arnold of NASA and began preparations for their return to Earth Oct. 4. Artemyev will command the ride back to Earth inside the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft flanked by the two astronauts. He and Feustel practiced on a computer their Soyuz descent back into Earth’s atmosphere. Arnold packed up crew provisions and other items inside the Russian spacecraft.

Physics, Human Research on Lab as Japan Announces Launch Date

NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor
NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor poses with a U.S. spacesuit inside the U.S. Quest Airlock. The spacesuit helmet’s visor is coated with a thin layer of gold that filters out the sun’s harmful rays during spacewalks.

Physics science and human research continues unabated aboard the International Space Station as NASA and its partners seek to understand the impacts of living in space. Meanwhile, Japan announced a new launch date for its HTV-7 cargo mission to resupply the Expedition 56 crew.

Astronaut Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) has been exploring for several weeks now whether a custom designed t-shirt can provide comfort and thermal efficiency during a space workout. He has also been testing a wearable device that measures cardio-pulmonary activity during exercise.

NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold and Serena Auñón-Chancellor worked on separate science gear today that enables research into flames, fuels and high temperatures in space. Arnold spent most of Wednesday replacing experiment hardware inside the Combustion Integrated Rack. Auñón-Chancellor removed samples from inside the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace to observe changes in their thermo-physical properties.

JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) announced early today that it will attempt to launch its HTV-7 resupply ship, also known as the Kounotori, Friday at 2:15 p.m. EDT to the station. The Kounotori is due to arrive at the station Tuesday loaded with over five tons of cargo, including new science experiments and science hardware.

Commander Drew Feustel and will be in the cupola Tuesday, with Auñón-Chancellor as his backup, to command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture the Kounotori at 8:05 a.m. The duo has been training for the Kounotori’s arrival for several weeks practicing on a computer rendezvous procedures and robotics maneuvers. NASA TV will broadcast the Kounotori launch and capture activities live.