Station Managers Choose June 11 for Expedition 43 Homecoming

Expedition 42/43 Crew Members
JSC2014E088152 (10/23/2014) — Official photogragh of the International Space Station Flight Engineers US Astronaut Terry Virt, European Space Agency Astronaut Samantha Cristofretti, and Russian Cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov.

Expedition 43 crew members Terry Virts, Anton Shkaplerov and Samantha Cristoforetti will return to Earth June 11 at 9:43 a.m. EDT. The trio from the U.S., Russia and Italy will enter the Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft, undock from the Rassvet module and land in Kazakhstan after 6-1/2 months in space.

NASA Television will provide live coverage of the undocking and landing.

The homebound crew is packing gear in their Soyuz vehicle and training to use the Lower Body Negative Pressure suit which gets their bodies ready for the return Earth’s gravity. In the midst of Soyuz departure preparations, the crew is also continuing the International Space Station’s mission of advanced microgravity science to benefit life on Earth and in space.

There was more Rodent Research work on Friday as scientists study mice to understand the effects of weightlessness on muscles and bones. The crew is also participating in the Fine Motor Skills experiment which looks at how astronauts interact with touch-based technologies and spacecraft instrumentation.

Module Relocated Prepping Station for Commercial Crew

International Space Station
The International Space Station configuration as of May 27, 2015, shows the newly relocated Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM), two Soyuz crew vehicles and a Progress resupply vehicle. Credit: NASA

The Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) was successfully relocated from the Unity module to the Tranquility module at 9:08 a.m. EDT Wednesday.

The PMM was robotically relocated from the Earth-facing port of the Unity module on the International Space Station to the forward port of the Tranquility module in the next step to reconfigure the complex for the future arrival of U.S. commercial crew vehicles. Robotic flight controllers at Mission Control, Houston, working in tandem with the Mobile Servicing System (MSS) Operations Center at the Canadian Space Agency’s headquarters in St. Hubert, Quebec, Canada, used the Canadarm2 robotic arm to maneuver the 11-ton module a short distance to its new location. Expedition 43 Commander Terry Virts and Flight Engineer Scott Kelly of NASA supervised the commanding of the bolting of the PMM to Tranquility. The PMM’s hatch will be reopened tomorrow.

The operation opened the Earth-facing port of Unity as another berthing location for U.S. commercial cargo vehicles. Future U.S. commercial crew vehicles will arrive at the space-facing and forward ports of the Harmony module, which will continue its transformation later this year when a pair of International Docking Adapters (IDAs) will be delivered on the seventh and ninth NASA-contracted SpaceX cargo resupply missions. The IDAs will be attached to Pressurized Mating Adapters 2 and 3, enabling the station to host up to two U.S. commercial cargo and two U.S. commercial crew vehicles at any given time.

 

Watch NASA TV at 8 a.m. EDT for Robotics Move

The Permanent Multipurpose Module
ISS038-E-015272 (12 Dec. 2013) — The Permanent Multipurpose Module and the Soyuz TMA-11M spacecraft docked to the Rassvet Mini-Research Module 1 are featured in this image photographed during Expedition 38.

The International Space Station’s Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) was detached from a berthing mechanism on the Earth-facing port of the Unity module at 5:50 a.m. EDT by robotics flight controllers at Mission Control, Houston, working in tandem with Canadian Space Agency (CSA) engineers at the robotics support center located at CSA Headquarters in St. Hubert, Quebec, Canada. Used as a supply depot for the orbital laboratory, the 11-ton PMM is being maneuvered to an installation position at the forward port of the Tranquility module through the use of the station’s robotic arm, Canadarm2. NASA Television will provide coverage of the final steps of the installation and provide a replay of pertinent video from the start of the operation beginning at 8 a.m. EDT.

Once it is in the proper position, Expedition 43 Commander Terry Virts and Flight Engineer Scott Kelly of NASA will oversee the module’s final attachment to Tranquility. Virts and Kelly will reopen the hatch to the PMM at its new location tomorrow.

This move will clear the Unity port for its use as a second berthing location for U.S. commercial cargo spacecraft; the Earth-facing port on Harmony is currently used as the home port for U.S. cargo craft. The relocation of the PMM is the next step in the reconfiguration of the station that will allow U.S. commercial crew vehicles to dock to new docking ports on the forward and space-facing side of the Harmony module. That will provide a total of four ports for U.S. vehicles arriving at the orbital outpost.

Station Preps for Module Relocation Work

The Permanent Multipurpose Module and a docked Soyuz spacecraft
ISS026-E-031068 (1 March 2011) — The Permanent Multipurpose Module and a docked Soyuz spacecraft were photographed by an Expedition 26 crew member while space shuttle Discovery (STS-133) was docked with the station.

A cargo module is getting ready to be relocated from the Unity module to the Tranquility module Wednesday morning. Meanwhile, the crew also conducted science, health checks and Japanese robotics work.

Commander Terry Virts and One-Year crew member Scott Kelly prepared the Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) for its relocation. The duo closed the hatch on the large storage module and configured it for detachment tomorrow morning. Watch NASA TV Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. EDT for live coverage of the PMM relocation and installation that will prepare the International Space Station for future commercial crew vehicles. Also, you can view briefing graphics from a spacewalk to prepare for the PMM work

Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti worked in Japan’s Kibo lab module maneuvering its robotic arm’s Small Fine Arm to install experiment samples on an external platform. She also photographed her work during the robotics activities.

The three cosmonauts, including One-Year crew member Mikhail Kornienko, worked numerous science experiments and maintenance in the Russian segment. The trio observed how a crew member’s metabolism and motion adapt to microgravity, explored how sound waves could help pinpoint micrometeoroid impacts and studied the electromagnetic environment that surrounds space station.

Station to Raise Orbit before June Expedition 43 Undocking

Astronaut Terry Virts and Scott Kelly
Astronaut Terry Virts and Scott Kelly were inside the Quest airlock Friday morning talking to reporters from The Weather Channel and Time Magazine . Credit: NASA TV

The six-member Expedition 43 crew ends its work week with a wide variety of science exploring life in space benefiting both crews in space and humans on Earth. Meanwhile, one space freighter is preparing to fire its thrusters to lift the station’s orbit as another is being packed and readied for splashdown.

One-Year crew members Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko participated in the Fine Motor Skills experiment which monitors different phases of a crew member’s microgravity adaptation and recovery back on Earth. Commander Terry Virts took samples of air and surface microbes for the Microbial Observatory-1 study which will be analyzed by scientists on the ground.

Samantha Cristoforetti studied the physics of where fluids and gases meet in Japan’s Kibo lab module. Flight Engineer Gennady Padalka worked on video gear and tested magnetometers in the station’s Russian segment. Flight Engineer Anton Shkaplerov studied chemical reactions in the Earth’s atmosphere, checked Russian docking systems and photographed windows in the Pirs and Poisk modules.

The ISS Progress 58 resupply ship docked to the Zvezda service module will fire its engines Friday night. The orbital boost will place the International Space Station at the correct altitude for the undocking of Expedition 43 in early June. The SpaceX Dragon loaded with science and gear will be released from the grips of the Canadarm2 May 21 at 7:05 a.m. EDT for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean a few hours later.

Visiting Vehicle Activities and Maintenance Keep Crew Busy

Astronauts Scott Kelly and Terry Virts
ISS043E181459 (05/07/2015) — NASA astronauts Scott Kelly (left) and Terry Virts (right) work on a Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly (CDRA) inside the station’s Japanese Experiment Module.

Expedition 43 is packing the SpaceX Dragon space freighter readying the vehicle for its return home and splashdown May 21. The docked ISS Progress 58 resupply ship will fire its thrusters Friday night placing the International Space Station at the correct orbit for next month’s Soyuz undocking.

The six-member crew also worked a variety of onboard maintenance ensuring crew safety and the upkeep of station hardware. One-Year crew member Scott Kelly worked on science gear in Japan’s Kibo lab module. Commander Terry Virts worked on replacing a Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly blower fan. Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti routed cables and configured valves to prepare the Permanent Multipurpose Module for its relocation later this month.

On the Russian side of the orbital lab, Flight Engineer Anton Shkaplerov photographed the condition of the Zvezda service module windows. Flight Engineer Gennady Padalka partnered up with One-Year crew member Mikhail Kornienko to study acoustic techniques for immediately locating micrometeoroid impacts on the station’s exterior. The trio also continued the maintenance of the Russian station systems.

The return to Earth for NASA’s Terry Virts, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti and Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov now is scheduled for early June. NASA and its international partners set the schedule after hearing the Russian Federal Space Agency’s (Roscosmos) findings on the loss of the Progress 59 cargo craft. The exact date has not yet been established and will be announced in the coming weeks.

Landing Delayed, Life Science and Dragon Packing for Expedition 43

Samantha Cristoforetti
ISS043E160082 (05/03/2015) — ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti enjoys her first drink from the new ISSpresso machine. The espresso device allows crews to make tea, coffee, broth, or other hot beverages they might enjoy.

The return to Earth for NASA’s Terry Virts, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti and Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov now is scheduled for early June. NASA and its international partners set the schedule after hearing the Russian Federal Space Agency’s (Roscosmos) findings on the loss of the Progress 59 cargo craft. The exact date has not yet been established and will be announced in the coming weeks.

Full Release

The six-member Expedition 43 crew worked Tuesday on a wide variety of tasks. The International Space Station residents explored life sciences, trained for a robotics experiment, conducted maintenance and prepared for next week’s departure of the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft.

Astronaut Scott Kelly worked on an experiment which observes how a crew member’s fine motor skills adapt over a six-month and a year-long mission in space. He then moved on to training for the Robotics Refueling Mission.

Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti worked on the Rodent Research experiment during the afternoon. Commander Terry Virts worked on cargo transfers to the Dragon space freighter which is getting ready for its May 21 departure and splashdown.

The three cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov, Gennady Padalka and Mikhail Kornienko, worked in the Russian segment. The trio cleaned dust filters, changed out a smoke detector and downloaded results from a microbial air sampling.

Dragon Arrives Friday, Unpacking Begins Saturday

The SpaceX Dragon arrives
Astronaut Terry Virts tweeted this picture of the SpaceX Dragon supply ship approaching the International Space Station. Credit: @AstroTerry

The Expedition 43 crew’s delivery arrived Friday aboard the SpaceX Dragon space freighter. Dragon was captured at 6:55 a.m. EDT after a two-day trip and a slow methodical approach. Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti guided the Canadarm2 and grappled the Dragon as it floated just 10 meters away from the International Space Station.

The crew will open the hatches to Dragon, which is berthed to the Harmony module, Saturday morning and begin 5 weeks of cargo transfer activities. Aside from crew supplies, Dragon brought new science gear including items for the Rodent Research-2 experiment and the station’s first espresso machine, the ISSpresso, which will provide espresso, tea, consommé and other hot beverages.

A Russian resupply ship is targeted to launch and dock to the space station in less than two weeks. The ISS Progress 59 will blast off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome April 28 at 3:09 p.m. and dock to the Poisk module less than six hours later.

Life Sciences and Cargo Transfers Taking Place on Orbital Lab

Expedition 43 Crew Members
All six Expedition 43 crew members are gathered in the Destiny laboratory on board the International Space Station on Mar 30, 2015 after an emergency procedures training period.

A wide variety of research exploring how life adapts to long-term exposure to microgravity took place on the International Space Station Friday. The crew members also worked on cargo transfers to and from a pair of docked vehicles.

More crew Ocular Health eye checks were on the schedule as scientists study the fluid shifts caused by microgravity and how they affect a crew member’s vision. New software was loaded on computers for the Rodent Research study, a life sciences experiment that was delivered on a SpaceX mission in January.

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, who collected a saliva sample for stowage in a science freezer, and his twin brother on the ground Mark Kelly are the subjects of the Twins study. That investigation compares the two brothers, one in space and one on the ground, and explores how the different environments affect the twins with identical genes.

On the Russian side of the orbital lab, the crew unloaded gear from the recently docked Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft. The ISS Progress 57 space freighter, docked to the Pirs docking compartment, is also being packed with trash ahead of its departure and fiery disposal April 25.

#YearInSpace Crew Enters Station Joining Expedition 43

Expedition 43 in the Zvezda service module
Scott Kelly, Mikhail Kornienko and Gennady Padalka joined their Expedition 43 crewmates Terry Virts, Anton Shkaplerov and Samantha Cristoforetti in the Zvezda service module for a crew greeting ceremony.

Kelly and Kornienko will spend about a year on the space station to better understand how the human body reacts and adapts to the harsh environment of space. Data from the one-year mission will be used to determine whether there are ways to further reduce the risks on future long-duration missions to an asteroid and eventually Mars.

The crew will support several hundred experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science — research that impacts life on Earth. Data and samples will be collected throughout the year from a series of studies involving Scott and his twin brother, former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly. The studies will compare data from the genetically-identical Kelly brothers to identify any subtle changes caused by spaceflight.

During the expedition, both a U.S. and a Russian cargo resupply vehicle will arrive at the station, bringing several tons of food, fuel, and supplies as well as a host of new science investigations.

Virts, Shkaplerov and Cristoforetti will return home in May 2015. At that time Padalka will become commander for Expedition 44. Padalka will spend six months aboard the outpost, during which he will become the first four-time station commander and record holder for most cumulative time spent in space. Kelly and Kornienko will return to Earth in March 2016 with Expedition 46 after 342 days in space.

You can follow the crew’s activities in space on social media. Follow space station activities via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Follow Twitter updates from Terry Virts, Samantha Cristoforetti, and Scott Kelly, and follow Kelly on Instagram.

To join the online conversation about the International Space Station and the one-year mission on Twitter, follow the hashtag #YearinSpace. To learn more about all the ways to connect and collaborate with NASA, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/connect.