Crew Set to Say Goodbye and Close Soyuz Spacecraft Hatch

Expedition 52-53 crew members
Expedition 52-53 crew members (from left) Paolo Nespoli of ESA, Sergey Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos, and Randy Bresnik of NASA are pictured in July 2017 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan before beginning their mission.

Three crew members who have been living and working aboard the International Space Station are set for return to Earth on Thursday. Coverage of the farewell and hatch closure is now underway on NASA TV and the agency’s website. Hatch closure is scheduled for around 9 p.m. EST.

Earlier Wednesday, Expedition 53 Commander Randy Bresnik of NASA handed over station command to Roscosmos’ Alexander Misurkin in an official Change of Command ceremony.

Bresnik and Flight Engineers Paolo Nespoli of ESA (European Space Agency) and Sergey Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos will undock their Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft from the space station at 12:14 a.m. Thursday, with landing in Kazakhstan targeted for 3:38 a.m. (2:38 p.m. Kazakhstan time).

Their return will conclude 139 days in space since their launch on July 28.

For more information about the International Space Station, visit


Station Gets Ready to Swap Two Crews in Five Days

Expedition 52-53 crew members
Expedition 52-53 crew members (from left) Paolo Nespoli, Sergey Ryazanskiy and Randy Bresnik are suited up for a test run of their Soyuz undocking and landing.

The Expedition 53 crew is getting ready to split up Thursday morning before another crew begins its mission next week. Soyuz Commander Sergey Ryazanskiy will pilot his crew mates Randy Bresnik of NASA and Paolo Nespoli of the European Space Agency in the Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft back to Earth after 139 days in space. The trio is scheduled to undock from the Rassvet module at 12:14 a.m. Thursday and parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan at 3:38 a.m.

New Expedition 54 Commander Alexander Misurkin will stay onboard the orbital laboratory with Flight Engineers Joe Acaba and Mark Vande Hei of NASA until March. The trio have been onboard the station since Sept. 12 and will welcome a new set of crewmates next week when the Soyuz MS-07 crew ship arrives.

The next space travelers to board the station will be veteran cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos and new astronauts Scott Tingle of NASA and Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. They are the Expedition 54-55 crew and are in Kazakhstan in final training ahead of their launch Sunday at 2:21 a.m. Shkaplerov, flanked by Tingle and Kanai, will take a two-day trip inside the Soyuz to the station before docking Tuesday at 3:43 a.m. for a four-month stay at the station.

Crews Prepare to Swap Places as Station Eyes California Wildfires

California Wildfires
Expedition 53 Commander Randy Bresnik aboard the International Space Station took this photo of the California wildfires in the Los Angeles on Dec. 6, 2017.

Two International Space Station crews are preparing to swap places at the orbital lab next week. In the midst of the crew swap activities, Commander Randy Bresnik also sent down dramatic photographs of the wildfires in California.

The Expedition 52-53 trio is getting its Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft ready for a three-and-a-half hour ride back to Earth on Dec. 14 after 139 days in space. Sergey Ryazanskiy, the Soyuz Commander, will lead his crewmates Randy Bresnik of NASA and Paolo Nespoli of the European Space Agency to a parachuted landing on the steppe Kazakhstan.

Next, the Expedition 54-55 trio will blast off Dec. 17 aboard the Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft and take a two-day trip to its new home in space. Anton Shkaplerov, a veteran cosmonaut from Roscosmos, will lead the flight to the station flanked by first-time astronauts Scott Tingle of NASA and Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

Back on orbit, Bresnik shared pictures he took on social media of the wildfires threatening the greater Los Angeles area in southern California. He wrote on his Twitter account, “Thank you to all the first responders, firefighters, and citizens willing to help fight these California wildfires.”

More wildfire photos can be viewed on the NASA portal and Flickr.

Next Crew in Russia as Station Preps for Cargo Missions

Expedition 54-55
Expedition 54-55 is the next crew to launch to the space station. They are (from left) Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos and Scott Tingle of NASA.

The next crew to launch to the International Space Station is in Russia today for traditional ceremonies before heading to the launch site in Kazakhstan. Back in space, the Expedition 53 crew is preparing for the departure and arrival of a pair of cargo ships next week.

Three new crew members from Russia, the United States and Japan are getting ready for their Dec. 14 launch aboard the Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft to the space station’s Rassvet module. The Expedition 54-55 crew consists of Soyuz Commander and veteran station resident Anton Shkaplerov and first-time Flight Engineers Scott Tingle and Norishige Kanai.

The trio was in Star City today talking to journalists before heading to Moscow to tour Red Square and lay flowers at the Kremlin Wall where famed cosmonauts are interred. Next, the crew will head to the launch site Dec. 4 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan where they will stay for final launch preparations at the Cosmonaut Hotel.

Meanwhile, the orbiting Expedition 53 crew is packing the Cygnus cargo craft with trash before it ends its mission next week. First, ground controllers will remotely detach Cygnus from the Unity module with the Canadarm2 on Dec. 5. Cygnus will then be maneuvered over the Harmony module for a GPS test to assist NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Next, astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba will take over the robotics controls and release Cygnus back into space on Dec. 6. It will orbit Earth until Dec. 18 then enter the Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean for a fiery, but safe demise.

SpaceX is getting ready to replenish the station with its Dragon cargo craft scheduled to deliver about 4,800 pounds of crew supplies and science gear. Dragon is targeted to launch Dec. 8 from Florida atop a Falcon 9 rocket and take a two-day trip to the station. Vande Hei and Acaba are training to capture Dragon with the Canadarm2 when it reaches a point 10 meters from the station. Ground controllers will them remotely install Dragon to the Harmony module where it will stay until Jan. 6.

Station Boosts Orbit for December Crew Swap

The Expedition 52-53 Crew Portrait
The Expedition 52-53 trio will return to Earth Dec. 14. The crew members (from left) are European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli, Roscosmos cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy and NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik.

The International Space Station is orbiting slightly higher today to get ready for a pair of crews swapping places on the orbital laboratory in December. A Progress 67 resupply ship docked to the rear of the station fired its engines for just over three minutes this morning boosting the orbital lab to its correct altitude for next month’s crew departure and arrival.

Three Expedition 53 crew members from the United States, Russia and Italy are getting ready to return home just in time for the holidays. Commander Randy Bresnik and his cohorts Sergey Ryazanskiy from Roscosmos and Paolo Nespoli from the European Space Agency are due to land Dec. 14 inside their Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft in Kazakhstan. From there, the veteran space trio will split up and return to their home space agencies about 24 hours later having just spent 139 days in space together.

Next up are three Expedition 54-55 crew members who will launch Dec. 17 for a two-day ride to the station inside the Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft. Veteran cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov from Roscosmos will be conducting his third tour aboard the orbital complex. Scott Tingle from NASA and Norishige Kanai from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will both be starting their first missions in space. All three will spend four months orbiting Earth.

Greeting the new crew when it arrives on Dec. 19 will be Expedition 54 Commander Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos and NASA Flight Engineers Joe Acaba and Mark Vande Hei who have been in space since Sept. 12. Misurkin will open the Rassvet module’s hatch where the Soyuz spacecraft will be docked and welcome the new crew members when they come flying in the station.

Station Orbiting Higher as Crew Checks Spacesuits

Astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Paolo Nespoli
Astronauts Mark Vande Hei (left) and Paolo Nespoli work on science gear inside the Destiny laboratory module.

The International Space Station boosted its orbit Wednesday to prepare for the arrival of a pair of Russian spaceships before the end of the year. Meanwhile, the Expedition 53 crew continued getting ready for next week’s spacewalk and explored how living in space affects their bodies.

The docked Progress 67 resupply ship fired its engines Wednesday for three minutes and 40 seconds lifting the space station to a higher orbit. The reboost is the first of three with the next two taking place in November. The reboosts will place the station at the correct altitude to receive a Progress 68 resupply ship in mid-October and the Soyuz MS-07 crew ship in mid-December.

Spacewalkers Randy Bresnik and Mark Vande Hei are getting their U.S. spacesuits ready ahead of an Oct. 5 spacewalk. They inspected their suits today, scrubbed the cooling loops and filled them with water. The duo will work outside for about 6.5 hours next Thursday and replace a latching end effector at the tip of the Canadarm2.

NASA astronaut Joe Acaba attached sensors to himself and worked out on the station’s exercise bike today to help scientists understand how microgravity affects physical exertion. The VO2max study is researching how astronauts expend energy in space and how it may impact emergency situations and spacewalks.

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Dragon Splashes Down in Pacific With NASA Science Experiments

Sept.17, 2017: International Space Station Configuration
The departure of the SpaceX Dragon Sunday morning leaves three spaceships parked at the space station including the Progress 67 resupply ship and the Soyuz MS-05 and MS-06 crew ships.

SpaceX’s Dragon cargo craft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at approximately 10:14 a.m. EDT, southwest of Long Beach, California, and the recovery process is underway, marking the end of the company’s twelfth contracted cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station for NASA.

Expedition 53 Flight Engineer Paolo Nespoli of ESA (European Space Agency) and International Space Station Commander Randy Bresnik of NASA released the Dragon spacecraft earlier this morning at 4:40 a.m.

A variety of technological and biological studies are returning in Dragon. NASA and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the non-profit organization that manages research aboard the U.S. national laboratory portion of the space station, will receive time-sensitive samples and begin working with researchers to process and distribute them within 48 hours.

The Lung Tissue experiment used the microgravity environment of space to test strategies for growing new lung tissue. The ultimate goal of this investigation is to produce bioengineered human lung tissue that can be used as a predictive model of human responses allowing for the study of lung development, lung physiology or disease pathology.

Samples from the CASIS PCG 7 study used the orbiting laboratory’s microgravity environment to grow larger versions of an important protein implicated in Parkinson’s disease. Developed by the Michael J. Fox Foundation, Anatrace and Com-Pac International, researchers will look to take advantage of the station’s microgravity environment which allows protein crystals to grow larger and in more perfect shapes than earth-grown crystals, allowing them to be better analyzed on Earth. Defining the exact shape and morphology of LRRK2 would help scientists to better understand the pathology of Parkinson’s and aid in the development of therapies against this target.

Mice from NASA’s Rodent Research-9 study also will return live to Earth for additional study. The investigation combined three studies into one mission, with two looking at how microgravity affects blood vessels in the brain and in the eyes and the third looking at cartilage loss in hip and knee joints. For humans on Earth, research related to limited mobility and degrading joints can help scientists understand how arthritis develops, and a better understanding of the visual impairments experienced by astronauts can help identify causes and treatments for eye disorders.

Dragon launched to the space station Aug. 14 from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and arrived at the station Aug. 16, delivering more than 6,400 pounds of supplies and cargo.

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New Station Crew Arrives to Home In Space

Station Viewed from Soyuz
The space station is viewed from the Soyuz spacecraft as it aligns itself with the Poisk module’s docking port. Credit: NASA TV

The Soyuz MS-06 spacecraft docked to the International Space Station at 10:55 p.m. EDT while both spacecraft were flying 252 statute miles over the Pacific Ocean off to the west of Chile.

Aboard the space station, Expedition 53 Commander Randy Bresnik of NASA and Flight Engineers Sergey Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos and Paolo Nespoli of ESA (European Space Agency) will welcome Soyuz crew members Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba of NASA and Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos when the hatches between the two spacecraft are opened following standard pressurization and leak checks.

Watch the hatch opening targeted for 12:40 a.m. and welcome ceremony live on NASA TV beginning at 12 a.m. on the agency’s website.

For live coverage and more information about the mission, visit: Get breaking news, images and features from the station on Instagram at: @iss and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

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New Crew Launching Today Live on NASA TV

Expedition 53-54 Crew Members
The Expedition 53-54 crew members wave goodbye before entering their Soyuz MS-06 spacecraft at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

At the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Expedition 53-54 Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba of NASA and Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos are preparing for their launch to the International Space Station aboard the Soyuz MS-06. Their journey to the station will begin with a lift off at 5:17 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Sept. 12  (3:17 a.m. Baikonur time on Sept. 13). Live launch coverage will begin at 4:15 p.m. EDT on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

The three will join Expedition 53 Commander Randy Bresnik of NASA and Flight Engineers Sergey Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos and Paolo Nespoli of the ESA (European Space Agency). The Expedition 53 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

12:47:02pm     4:30                 Crew suit up
1:12:02pm       4:05                 Booster loaded with liquid Oxygen
1:47:02pm       3:30                 Crew meets family members on other side of the glass
2:12:02pm       3:05                 First and second stage oxygen fueling complete
2:17:02pm       3:00                 Crew walkout from 254 and boards bus for the launch pad
2:22:02pm       2:55                 Crew departs for launch pad (Site 1)
2:42:02pm       2:35                 Crew arrives at launch pad (Site 1)
2:52:02pm       2:25                 Crew boards Soyuz; strapped in to the Descent module
3:42:02pm       1:35                 Descent module hardware tested
3:57:02pm       1:20                 Hatch closed; leak checks begin
4:15:00pm      1:02:02            NASA TV LAUNCH COVERAGE BEGINS
4:17:02pm       1:00                 Launch vehicle control system prep; gyro activation
4:30:00pm      :47:02              NASA TV: Crew pre-launch activities played (B-roll)
4:32:02pm       :45                   Pad service structure components lowered
4:33:02pm       :44                   Clamshell gantry service towers retracted
4:40:02pm       :37                   Suit leak checks begin; descent module testing complete
4:43:02pm       :34                   Emergency escape system armed
5:02:02pm       :15                   Suit leak checks complete; escape system to auto
5:07:02pm       :10                   Gyros in flight readiness and recorders activated
5:10:02pm       :07                   Pre-launch operations complete
5:11:02pm       :06                   Launch countdown operations to auto; vehicle ready
5:11:54pm      :05:08              The ISS flies directly over the Baikonur Cosmodrome
5:12:02pm       :05                   Commander’s controls activated
5:13:02pm       :04                   Combustion chamber nitrogen purge
5:14:02pm       :03                   Propellant drainback
5:14:17pm       :02:45              Booster propellant tank pressurization
5:15:32pm       :01:30              Ground propellant feed terminated
5:16:02pm       :01:00              Vehicle to internal power
5:16:27pm       :00:35              First umbilical tower separates
Auto sequence start
5:16:32pm       :00:30              Ground umbilical to third stage disconnected
5:16:47pm       :00:15              Second umbilical tower separates
5:16:50pm       :00:12              Launch command issued
Engine Start Sequence Begins
5:16:52pm       :00:10              Engine turbopumps at flight speed
5:16:57pm       :00:05              Engines at maximum thrust
5:17:02pm      :00:00              LAUNCH OF SOYUZ MS-05 TO THE ISS
5:25:47pm      +8:45               THIRD STAGE SHUTDOWN; ORBITAL INSERTION

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

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

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Space Science Work Today as New Crew Waits for Launch

Expedition 53-54 Prime and Backup Crew Members
Expedition 53-54 prime and backup crew members pose in front of the Soyuz MS-06 rocket that will launch Sept. 12 carrying Alexander Misurkin, Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba to the space station. Credit: Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center/Irina Peshkova

Today’s science tasks included an inspection on an advanced microscope and readying a magnetic field experiment. The crew also worked on a failed electrical device that was robotically transferred to the Kibo laboratory module in early August.

Commander Randy Bresnik and Flight Engineer Paolo Nespoli removed a failed Main Bus Switching Unit (MBSU) from Kibo’s airlock today. The duo swapped out some electronics gear in the MBSU and tested the device while it was connected to a laptop computer.

Nespoli started his day setting up the Magvector magnetic field experiment for operations set to begin next week. The study investigates how Earth’s magnetic field interacts with an electrical conductor potentially improving electrical experiments in space.

As Bresnik was wrapping up his MBSU maintenance work, Nespoli began inspecting advanced microscope gear. The variety of new Light Microscopy Module gear had been recently launched and was being checked for shattered materials.

Three new Expedition 53 crew members are at the Baikonur Cosmodrome just five days away from their launch to the International Space Station. Two NASA astronauts and a Roscosmos cosmonaut are in final preparations checking their Sokol launch and entry suits and examining their Soyuz MS-06 spacecraft.

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