Station Crew Congratulates Pluto Team after Flyby

Astronaut Scott Kelly
Astronaut Scott Kelly recognizes the Pluto flyby of the New Horizons spacecraft.

As the Expedition 44 crew orbited above the Earth at 17,500 miles per hour the New Horizons spacecraft flew by Pluto this morning at more than 30,000 mph. New Horizons’ closest approach was about 7,750 miles above the dwarf planet’s surface after a nine-year trip. The International Space Station has been orbiting at an average altitude of about 250 miles since November 1998. Watch the video as NASA astronaut Scott Kelly recognizes the historical accomplishment.

Kelly talked to the Weather Channel and CNN International about his One-Year mission and today’s Pluto flyby. Kelly also checked out life support systems and deployed radiation detectors inside the station for the Radi-N experiment.

The two cosmonauts, Commander Gennady Padalka and One-Year crew member Mikhail Kornienko, worked on a variety of Russian science experiments Tuesday. The duo explored cell cultivation, radiation exposure, crew performance measures and vibrations the space station experiences during internal and external operations.

Another crew is in Kazakhstan counting down to their July 22 launch on the Soyuz TMA-17M spacecraft to join Expedition 44. First time flyers NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren and JAXA astronaut Kimiya Yui will join Soyuz Commander and veteran cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko for the six-hour ride to their new home in space.

New Crew at Launch Site, Cubesat Deployments Begin

Expedition 44 crew members
jsc2015e071473 — Expedition 44 crew members Kjell Lindgren , Oleg Kononenko and Kimiya Yui pose with their Sokol launch and entry suits July 11 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center

A new trio of space station crew members arrived at the Baikonur Cosmodrome on Friday to complete mission preparations. In space, the orbital residents began a series of Cubesat deployments.

The Expedition 44/45 crew comprised of Soyuz Commander Oleg Kononenko and Flight Engineers Kjell Lindgren and Kimiya Yui are wrapping up preflight training in Kazakhstan. They will launch July 22 aboard the Soyuz TMA-17M spacecraft for a six-hour ride to the International Space Station.

On board the International Space Station, One-Year crew member Scott Kelly set up the Japanese Kibo airlock for Cubesat deployments this week. Kelly also explored fluid physics for the Capillary Beverage study. Cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Mikhail Kornienko studied liquid crystals and observed chemical reactions in the Earth’s upper atmosphere.

Crew Heads to Launch Site Friday, First Commercial Crew Announced

Expedition 44/45 Crew Members
At the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, Expedition 44/45 crew members (from left) Kjell Lindgren of NASA; Oleg Kononenko of the Russian Federal Space Agency; and Kimiya Yui of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency pose for pictures following a news conference July 8. Credit: NASA/Seth Marcantel

The International Space Station will get an orbital boost tonight to get ready for upcoming Soyuz crew missions. On the ground, three new crew members are preparing for their Friday departure to the launch site at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The orbiting Expedition 44 trio, with Commander Gennady Padalka and One-Year crew members Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko, is looking forward to expanding to three new crew members. Soyuz Commander Oleg Kononenko and Flight Engineers Kjell Lindgren and Kimiya Yui will take a six-hour ride July 22 in the Soyuz TMA-17M spacecraft for a five month stay in space.

On the station, Kelly is getting Japan’s Kibo airlock ready for next week’s deployment of 16 Cubesats over four days. Kornienko continued moving supplies from the new ISS Progress 60 space freighter. Padalka worked on the Vozdukh, a Russian carbon dioxide removal system, the Zvezda service module. All the crew members then practiced emergency evacuation procedures.

NASA announced today that four astronauts have been selected to train on commercial crew vehicles. Veteran astronauts Robert Behnken, Sunita Williams, Eric Boe and Douglas Hurley are now training for a commercial crew launch in 2017 as part of NASA’s journey to Mars.

Commercial Crew Astronauts
The first astronauts selected to train to fly to space on commercial crew carriers are (from left) Bob Behnken, Eric Boe, Doug Hurley and Sunita Williams

Botany Science, Cargo Work on Orbit

Northern Australia
The brilliant blues and rugged cliffs along the waters edge of northern Australia.

The Expedition 44 trio continued more science Wednesday looking at plants, fluids and other ongoing advanced space research. Back on Earth, another crew is getting ready for its July 22 launch to the International Space Station.

One-Year crew member Scott Kelly worked throughout the day on botany science preparing samples collected for the Plant Gravity Sensing 2 study and installing gear for the Veggie-01 experiment. Kelly then moved on to the Capillary Beverage experiment which uses specially designed Space Cups that use fluid dynamics to mimic the effect of gravity. Results of this experiment will in turn be used to design advanced fluid systems for spacecraft with significantly increased reliability

Kelly’s One-Year crew partner Mikhail Kornienko worked on Russian life support maintenance and transferred cargo from the new ISS Progress 60 resupply ship. Station Commander Gennady Padalka spent the majority of his day collecting and photographing samples swabbed for the Aseptik hardware sterilization study.

Meanwhile in Russia three new crew members conducted a news conference, toured the Gagarin Museum and laid flowers at the statue of Yuri Gagarin ahead of their Friday departure to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. From there they will launch July 22 at 5:02 p.m. EDT aboard a Soyuz TMA-17M spacecraft for a six-hour ride to their new home in orbit.

Russian Cargo Craft Arrives at Space Station

Space Station Configuration
The ISS Progress 60 cargo craft is now docked to the Pirs docking compartment. Credit: NASA TV

Traveling about 251 miles over the south Pacific, southeast of New Zealand, the unpiloted ISS Progress 60 Russian cargo ship docked at 3:11 a.m. EDT to the Pirs Docking Compartment of the International Space Station.

The craft is delivering more than three tons of food, fuel and supplies, including 1,940 pounds of propellant, 106 pounds of oxygen, 926 pounds of water, and 3,133 pounds of spare parts, supplies and experiment hardware for the members of the Expedition 44 crew currently living and working in space. Progress 60 is scheduled to remain docked to Pirs for the next four months.

For more information about the current crew and the International Space Station, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/station.

ISS Progress 60
The ISS Progress 60 cargo craft is seen just a few minutes away from docking to the International Space Station. Credit: NASA TV

Robotics Training Before Sunday’s SpaceX CRS-7 Launch

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly
ISS043E276473 (05/31/2015) — NASA astronaut Scott Kelly is seen here inside the station’s Destiny laboratory preparing camera equipment for an upcoming documentation session.

The orbiting Expedition 44 trio is counting down to next week’s arrival of the SpaceX CRS-7 mission. The station inhabitants also participated in an emergency drill and advanced microgravity science.

One-Year crew member Scott Kelly is training for the robotic capture of the Dragon supply ship set for about 9 a.m. EDT June 30. Commander Gennady Padalka will be his backup monitoring systems during the rendezvous and approach. Dragon will launch atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Fla., Sunday at 10:21 a.m.

Padalka, Kelly and Flight Engineer Mikhail Kornienko practiced an emergency Soyuz evacuation drill on Monday. In the unlikely event the crew would need to escape from the space station during an emergency, they would use a Soyuz spacecraft as a lifeboat and return to Earth.

Science is always ongoing onboard the orbital laboratory with the crew and ground researchers exploring a variety of subjects. On the life science front, the crew members looked at how living in space affects an astronaut’s immune system for the Microbiome experiment.

First of Two Station Boosts Complete

Sparkling cities below the International Space Station
ISS043E257296 (05/26/2015) — Sparkling cities below the International Space Station are haloed by an aurora on the Earth’s horizon on May 26, 2015.

The International Space Station got an orbital boost this morning after a docked Russian resupply craft fired its engines for four minutes and eight seconds. One more reboost is scheduled for July 10 when the station will be at the proper altitude for a new Soyuz crew to dock at the end of July.

The crew onboard the orbital laboratory conducted a wide array of experiments today looking at such things as radiation, liquid crystals and life science. The trio of station residents also continued more eye checks with assistance from specialists on the ground.

One-Year crew member Mikhail Kornienko participated in the Matroyshka and RADI-N studies monitoring space radiation and exploring how it affects station crew members. Commander Gennady Padalka explored the behavior of liquid crystals in microgravity for the OASIS experiment with results potentially benefitting future space helmets with small display screens. NASA astronaut Scott Kelly worked in the Microgravity Science Glovebox cleaning up after earlier work with the Rodent Research study.

NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren, Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui and Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko are the next crew preparing to launch to the space station and join Expedition 44. Their launch aboard a Soyuz TMA-17M spacecraft is planned for July 22 when they will take a six-hour ride to their new home in space.

Eye Checks as Station Preps for Late July Soyuz Launch

Astronaut Scott Kelly
Astronaut Scott Kelly works inside the Kibo laboratory. Credit: NASA

The three-member Expedition 44 crew is conducting biomedical science today to study the effects of living in space on a crew member’s body. The International Space Station will raise its orbit tomorrow to allow another trio of space residents to join the orbiting residents at the end of July.

Commander Gennady Padalka and One-Year crew members Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko took part in the Ocular Health study today. They looked at the interior of each other’s eyes with a tonometer and checked their blood pressure. Scientists are exploring how microgravity affects an astronaut’s vision and the eye’s physiology.

Back on Earth, astronauts from the U.S., Russia and Japan are counting down to their July 22 lift-off on a Soyuz TMA-17M spacecraft to join Expedition 44. The docked ISS Progress 58 spacecraft will fire its engines Thursday morning staging the space station for the new crew’s arrival.

Orbiting Trio at Work While New Crew Awaits July 22 Launch

Expedition 43 Lands in Soyuz
201506110001HQ — The Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft is seen as it lands with Expedition 43. Credit: Bill Ingalls

Three Expedition 43 crew members are readapting to Earth’s gravity after returning home Thursday morning. The trio still onboard the International Space Station is working advanced microgravity science, orbital maintenance and exercise to remain fit and counter the effects of living in space.

Expedition 44 started early Thursday morning after the Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft undocked from the Rassvet module. NASA astronaut Terry Virts, ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti and Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov parachuted to a landing in Kazakhstan a few hours later.

Remaining in space and waiting for a new crew are cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Mikhail Kornienko and NASA astronaut Scott Kelly. Kornienko and Kelly are the One-Year crew members and Padalka is the new Expedition 44 commander.

The orbiting trio looked ways to improve performance in space with the Sprint experiment. They also explored methods to detect pressure leaks and radiation in the space station for the Bar and Matroyshka experiments.

Russian mission managers have chosen July 22 as the launch date for three new Expedition 44 crew members. Soyuz TMA-17M Commander Oleg Kononenko will be joined by astronauts Kjell Lindgren from NASA and Kimiya Yui from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency for the ride to space and return home in December.

Soyuz Crew Returns Home after 199 Days in Space

Soyuz Landing
The Soyuz spacecraft carrying NASA astronaut Terry Virts, European astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti and Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov is seen just a few seconds from landing in the steppe of Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA TV

Expedition 43 Commander Terry Virts of NASA, Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA and Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos landed their Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft in Kazakhstan at 9:44 a.m. EDT. Russian recovery teams will help the crew exit the Soyuz vehicle and adjust to gravity after their stay in space.

The trio arrived at the International Space Station on Nov. 24, 2014, and spent more than six months conducting research and technology demonstrations. Virts, Cristoforetti and Shkaplerov spent 199 days aboard the space station and clocked almost 84 million miles during their time in space.

Virts has logged 212 days in space on two flights, the first of which was on space shuttle mission STS-130 in 2010. Shkaplerov has spent 364 days in space on two flights, the first of which was on Expedition 29/30 in 2011. This was Cristoforetti’s first flight into space.

Expedition 43 crew
Expedition 43 crew members Terry Virts, Anton Shkaplerov and Samantha Cristoforetti rest in seats surrounded by support personnel shortly after being extracted from the Soyuz spacecraft after its landing. Credit: NASA TV

The station now is occupied by Expedition 44 Commander Gennady Padalka of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), Flight Engineer Scott Kelly of NASA and Mikhail Kornienko of Roscosmos. Kelly and Kornienko are two and half months into their year aboard the complex collecting valuable biomedical data that will inform future deep space, long-duration missions.

The remainder of the Expedition 44 crew, NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko and Kimiya Yui of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, is scheduled to launch from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, in late July.

Some items returning on this Soyuz were used as part of research investigations aboard the International Space Station. Equipment that supports various studies which use dosimeters will return with the crew. Dosimeters are devices that measure radiation. Several investigations employ the dosimeters to gather information about space radiation to help manage exposure and provide protection to crew members.

Both the Area Passive Dosimeter for Life-Science Experiments in Space (Area PADLES) and the Dosimetric Mapping (DOSMAP) investigations aboard the space station help researchers collect data to design radiation monitoring equipment for astronauts. This knowledge may improve design for spacecraft structures that shield internal occupants from radiation. Scientists also may use the data to develop protection devices for people who work in medical or industrial areas with potential radiation exposure.

Samples from the ongoing Study of the Impact of Long-Term Space Travel on the Astronauts’ Microbiome investigation also will return. The Microbiome study looks at the impact of space travel on the immune system and on human microbiomes – microbes living in and on the human body at any given time. Samples from crew members’ bodies and the space station environment are taken periodically to monitor changes in the immune system and microbiomes. The results of this study may add to research on health impacts to people who live and work in extreme environments on Earth, and help with research on early disease detection, metabolic function and immune system deficiency.