New Crew, New Science Experiments Launching Next Weekend

The Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft is processed launch
The Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft that will carry three new crewmembers to the International Space Station is processed for its July 20 launch at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: Roscosmos

The International Space Station is gearing up for a pair of spaceships launching next weekend to deliver a new crew and more science and supplies. The Expedition 60 crew is also testing a new robotic assistant and learning how long-term weightlessness impacts crew performance.

Three people are at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan counting down to their historic July 20 launch to the orbiting lab aboard the Soyuz MS-13 crew ship. Astronauts Drew Morgan and Luca Parmitano will flank cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov in the Soyuz spaceship as he commands their six-and-a-half hour ride to their new home in space. The trio’s launch comes 50 years to the day when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped foot on the Moon for the first time.

The following day on July 21, SpaceX will launch its Dragon space freighter from Florida on a day-and-a-half flight to the space station. Dragon is delivering supplies and a variety of new research gear to explore space-mining techniques, neurodegenerative disease treatments, space botany and microbial evolution.

NASA Flight Engineers Nick Hague and Christina Koch are training to capture Dragon with the Canadarm2 robotic arm when it arrives Tuesday, July 23. Hague will command Canadarm2 to reach out and grapple Dragon when the resupply ship reaches a point about 10 meters from the station. Koch will back up Hague and monitor Dragon’s approach and rendezvous from inside the cupola.

Koch set up the Astrobee free-flying robotic helper Friday afternoon and monitored its flight test in the Kibo laboratory module. Engineers are testing and calibrating the cube-shaped Astrobee’s mobility for its potential to perform routine lab monitoring and station tasks.

Hague started the day helping scientists understand how microgravity affects blood flow to the brain for the Cerebral Autoregulation biomedical study. After completing that study, he closed out the Two-Phase Flow heat transfer experiment that may advance the design of cooling systems for Earth and space applications.

Station Commander Alexey Ovchinin is helping his home space agency, Roscosmos, train future cosmonauts today. He performed tasks to help scientists understand how microgravity affects a crewmember’s ability to pilot a spacecraft or remotely control a robotic vehicle on a planetary surface.

Biology, Spacesuit Work While New Crew Trains for Launch

Expedition 60 crewmembers pose with their Sokol launch and entry suits
Expedition 60 crewmembers pose for pictures with their Sokol launch and entry suits July 5 during pre-launch preparations at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Three Expedition 60 crewmembers are orbiting Earth supporting a variety of biology research and spacesuit servicing today. A trio of soon-to-be International Space Station residents are in Kazakhstan awaiting a launch to their new home in space in less than two weeks.

NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Nick Hague collected their blood samples Monday morning for spinning in a centrifuge. The samples were then stowed in a science freezer for later analysis by scientists on Earth.

Koch then went on to work on a pair of U.S. spacesuits, cleaning cooling loops and replacing components. She also watered plants growing inside the Columbus laboratory module for the two-part VEG-04 space agriculture study.

Hague wrapped up last week’s CubeSat deployment activities by retracting the deployer hardware back inside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module. The NASA astronaut later tested new adjustable LED lights installed throughout the orbiting lab to increase crew health and wellness.

Commander Alexey Ovchinin focused mainly on computer maintenance and lab cleaning in the Russian segment of the station. Toward the end of the day, the veteran cosmonaut explored space exercise techniques and photographed landmarks on Earth.

Back on Earth at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, three new station residents are in final training ahead of their July 20 launch. Cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov will lead astronauts Andrew Morgan and Luca Parmitano aboard the Soyuz MS-13 crew ship during their six-hour ride to the space station.

New Crew in Final Preps Before Historic July 20 Launch

Expedition 60 crewmembers aboard a Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center aircraft
Expedition 60 crewmembers (from left) Drew Morgan, Alexander Skvortsov and Luca Parmitano affix a crew insignia sticker to the hull of the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center aircraft as they flew to their training base in Kazakhstan July 4.

The next crew to liftoff to the International Space Station arrived at the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch site on the U.S. Independence Day awaiting a historic July 20 liftoff.

New Expedition 60 crewmates Andrew Morgan, Luca Parmitano and Alexander Skvortsov are in final mission preparations in Kazakhstan. The trio arrived July 4 counting down to a July 20 launch to the orbiting lab 50 years to the date NASA landed humans on the Moon for the first time.

Morgan is going to space for the first time and will meet his fellow Class of 2013 NASA astronaut members, Christina Koch and Nick Hague, who have been at the station since March. Parmitano is on his second mission. Skvortsov, who is leading the mission aboard the Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft, is making his third visit to the space station.

Back aboard the station, the three orbiting Expedition 60 crewmembers continued science and maintenance duties. Koch sampled the station’s life support system for microbes while Hague serviced a specialized science furnace. Ovchinin checked on Russian station systems and monitored a radiation exposure study.

Station Trio Works CubeSats, Space Plumbing Ahead of Historic July 20 Launch

Upcoming Expedition 60 crewmembers
Upcoming Expedition 60 crewmembers (from left) Drew Morgan, Alexander Skvortsov and Luca Parmitano pose for pictures at the Kremlin Wall at Red Square in Moscow on June 28.

The Expedition 60 crew is configuring more CubeSats for deployment and working on space plumbing aboard the International Space Station today. Back on Earth, three crewmembers from the U.S., Italy and Russia are in training for their launch to the station on July 20.

NASA astronaut Nick Hague installed hardware that will deploy seven CubeSats outside of the Kibo laboratory module this week. Engineers and students from around the world designed the series of seven microsatellites for a variety of experiments and technology demonstrations.

NASA Flight Engineer Christina Koch relocated a science freezer before some space gardening during Monday morning. She and Hague then took turns during the afternoon swapping filters and components in the station’s Water Recycling System.

Commander Alexey Ovchinin worked throughout the day in the orbiting lab’s Russian segment. The two-time station visitor tested laptop computer batteries, transferred urine to a Russian cargo craft and maintained life support systems.

In Russia, three upcoming station residents from NASA, the European Space Agency and Roscosmos are in final preparations ahead of their historic July 20 launch. Flight Engineers Andrew Morgan, Luca Parmitano and Alexander Skvortsov are launching 50 years to the day humans first landed on the Moon. The trio will liftoff aboard the Soyuz TMA-13 spacecraft to their new home in space.

Station Deploying Microsatellites as New Crew Prepares for July 20 Launch

Expedition 60-61 Crewmembers
The next crew to launch to the space station is in Russia training for a July 20 launch to their new home in space. From left are, Expedition 60-61 crewmembers Andrew Morgan, Alexander Skvortsov and Luca Parmitano.

A satellite deployer ejected a CubeSat into Earth orbit last night from outside the International Space Station’s Kibo laboratory module. Today, the three Expedition 60 crewmembers explored microgravity’s effect on humans and plants to support longer spaceflight missions.

The RED-EYE microsatellite is orbiting Earth today to demonstrate satellite communications and attitude control technologies. NASA Flight Engineer Nick Hague installed the satellite inside Kibo’s airlock last week for a safe deployment outside the orbiting lab. The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship delivered the CubeSat to the station May 6.

Hague is readying more CubeSats today for deployment later next week outside Kibo. They will orbit Earth demonstrating space tasks such as weather observations, satellite maneuvers and Earth photography. Students and engineers from around the world designed the series of seven microsatellites.

NASA astronaut Christina Koch watered plants growing inside Europe’s Columbus laboratory module for the Veg-04 space gardening study. Afterward, she replaced fuel bottles to support flame and fuel research in the U.S. Destiny laboratory module’s Combustion Integrated Rack.

Commander Alexey Ovchinin spent Friday morning exploring tools and techniques future cosmonauts could use when controlling a spacecraft or a robot on a planetary surface. The two-time station resident then spent the afternoon working on life support systems and plumbing tasks in the station’s Russian segment.

Back on Earth, two veteran station crewmembers and a first-time space-flyer are wrapping up tests in Russia to certify for their July 20 launch to the orbiting lab. NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan is in final mission training with experienced space residents Luca Parmitano of the European Agency and Alexander Skvortsov of Roscosmos. The trio will liftoff aboard the Soyuz MS-13 crew ship from Kazakhstan 50 years to the day when Neil Armstrong first stepped on the Moon.

Expedition 60 Science Ramps Up as Next Crew Trains for Mission

The atmospheric glow and a wispy aurora australis
The atmospheric glow and a wispy aurora australis, also known as the “southern lights,” frame a cloud-covered Earth.

Virtual reality filming, space gardening and biomedical research were on the timeline for two NASA astronauts aboard the International Space Station today, while a cosmonaut took care of computer hardware and life support maintenance.

Flight Engineer Christina Koch tended to plants today growing inside Europe’s Columbus laboratory module for the Veg-04 botany study. She later relocated a pair of tiny research facilities in the EXPRESS-6 science rack. The two devices, TangoLab-2 and STaARS-1, enable advanced investigations into a variety of biological processes, such as cell cultures and tissue engineering.

Astronaut Nick Hague took a turn today recording himself with a 360-degree camera for a virtual reality experience targeted to audiences on Earth. In the afternoon, he collected and stowed his urine samples in a science freezer for later analysis.

Expedition 60 Commander Alexey Ovchinin worked on Russian computer hardware in the Zvezda service module. In the evening, he picked up a high-powered camera for a photographic survey of catastrophes on Earth and their natural consequences.

The next crew to launch to the space station is in Star City, Russia for final qualification exams to certify to fly aboard the Soyuz MS-13 spaceship. Cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov will lead NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan and European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano in the Soyuz when they blast off July 20 for a six-hour ride to their new home in space. This will be Morgan’s first space mission, Parmitano’s second and Skvortsov’s third visit to the station.

Three Station Residents Back on Earth After 204 Days in Space

Expedition 59 NASA astronaut Anne McClain
Expedition 59 Flight Engineer Anne McClain of NASA is helped out of the Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft just minutes after she, Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, landed in Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

NASA astronaut Anne McClain and two of her Expedition 59 crewmates returned to Earth from the International Space Station Monday, landing safely in Kazakhstan at 10:47 p.m. EDT (8:47 a.m. Tuesday, June 25, local time) after months of science and four spacewalks aboard the microgravity laboratory.

McClain, Expedition 59/Soyuz Commander Oleg Kononenko of the Russian space agency Roscosmos and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency launched Dec. 3, 2018. They arrived at the space station just six hours later to begin their 204-day mission, during which they orbited Earth 3,264 times traveling 86,430,555 miles.

After post-landing medical checks, McClain and Saint-Jacques will return to Houston and Kononenko to Star City, Russia.

The Expedition 59 crew contributed to hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science, including investigations into small devices that replicate the structure and function of human organs, editing DNA in space for the first time and recycling 3D-printed material.

McClain, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army and native of Spokane, Washington, conducted two spacewalks totaling 13 hours and 8 minutes on her mission into space.

Saint-Jacques, also on his first space mission and only the sixth Canadian astronaut to perform a spacewalk, joined McClain on her second outing, which totaled 6 hours and 29 minutes. Kononenko, on his fourth mission, conducted two spacewalks totaling 13 hours and 46 minutes, bringing his career total to 32 hours and 13 minutes spread over five spacewalks.

When their Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft undocked at 7:25 p.m., Expedition 60 began aboard the station officially, with Nick Hague and Christina Koch of NASA as flight engineers, and Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos as the station’s commander.

The next residents to arrive at the space station – Andrew Morgan of NASA, Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) and Alexander Skvortsov of Roscosmos – will launch aboard Soyuz MS-13 on July 20, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and join Expedition 60 after a six-hour flight.

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.

Expedition 59 Trio Leaves Station for Ride to Earth

The Soyuz MS-11 Spacecraft
The Soyuz MS-11 Spacecraft carrying three Expedition 59 crewmembers backs away from the International Space Station moments after undocking.

NASA Flight Engineer Anne McClain, Expedition 59/Soyuz Commander Oleg Kononenko of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency undocked from the International Space Station at 7:25 p.m. EDT to begin their trip home.

Deorbit burn is scheduled for approximately 9:55 p.m., with landing in Kazakhstan targeted for 10:48 p.m. NASA will resume coverage on TV and online at 9:30 p.m. for deorbit burn and landing.

At the time of undocking, Expedition 60 began aboard the space station under the command of Roscosmos’ Alexey Ovchinin. Along with his crewmates NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch, the three-person crew will operate the station for a few weeks until the next residents arrive July 20.

Andrew Morgan of NASA, Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) and Alexander Skvortsov of Roscosmos will launch aboard Soyuz MS-13 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and join Expedition 60 after a six-hour flight on the 50th anniversary of the first human landing on the Moon.

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.

Departing Trio Boards Soyuz Crew Ship for Undocking

Expedition 59 crew members
Expedition 59 crew members (from left) Anne McClain, Oleg Kononenko and David Saint-Jacques are wearing the Sokol launch and entry suits they will wear on the way back to Earth aboard the Soyuz MS-11 crew ship.

At 4:15 p.m. EDT, the hatch closed between the Soyuz spacecraft and the International Space Station in preparation for undocking. NASA Flight Engineer Anne McClain, Expedition 59/Soyuz Commander Oleg Kononenko of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency are scheduled to undock their Soyuz at 7:25 p.m.

NASA Television will air live coverage of the undocking beginning at 7 p.m.

Their landing in Kazakhstan is targeted for approximately 10:48 p.m. and will conclude a more than six month mission conducting science and maintenance aboard the space station, in which they circled the globe 3,264 times, covering 86.4 million miles.

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.

NASA TV Broadcasts Earth-bound Trio Saying Farewell to Crewmates

Expedition 58-59 crewmembers
NASA astronaut Anne McClain, Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko and Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques pose for a portrait inside the Zvezda service module.

Three people who have been living in space for a 204-day mission conducting science and maintenance aboard the International Space Station are set for return to Earth at 10:48 p.m. EDT Monday, June 24.

Coverage of the farewell and hatch closure is now underway on NASA TV and the agency’s website. Hatch closure is expected at approximately 4:10 p.m.

After closing the hatch to their Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft, NASA Flight Engineer Anne McClain, Expedition 59/Soyuz Commander Oleg Kononenko of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency will undock from the station’s Rassvet module at 7:25 p.m. for their return to Earth, landing southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan.

On Sunday, Konenenko handed over station command to Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos in a change of command ceremony. Expedition 60 officially will begin following the undocking of the Expedition 59 crew.

The Expedition 59 crew contributed to hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science; conducted a total of four spacewalks; and saw the arrival and departure of six visiting spacecraft – including the first commercial crew flight test with the SpaceX Crew Dragon.

Their return will conclude 204 days in space since they launched Dec. 3. It was the fourth spaceflight for Konenenko and the first for McClain and Saint-Jacques, who now holds the record for the longest single spaceflight by a Canadian astronaut.

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.