Russian Cargo Ship Leaves, Crew Tests Dragon’s Comfort Factors

The Expedition 63 crew has expanded to five members with the arrival of the SpaceX Crew Dragon. (From left) Anatoly Ivanishin, Ivan Vagner, Chris Cassidy, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley. (Credit: NASA TV)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Russia’s Progress 74 (74P) cargo craft departed the International Space Station today leaving four spaceships from the U.S., Russia and Japan parked at the orbital lab. It will be replaced in two weeks when the Progress 76 arrives to replenish the crew.

The 74P undocked today at 2:23 p.m. EDT after seven months attached to the Pirs docking compartment. The trash-packed resupply ship will descend into Earth’s atmosphere above the South Pacific for a fiery but safe demise. The 76P will take its place when it launches on July 23 at 10:26 a.m. and docks just three-and-a-half hours later to Pirs.

Four out of the five Expedition 63 crew members assessed comfort factors inside the docked SpaceX Crew Dragon today. This is a demonstration of the Crew Dragon’s habitability ahead of the SpaceX Crew-1 mission planned for later this year.

NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, who piloted the Crew Dragon, will be joined by station Commander Chris Cassidy and Flight Engineer Anatoly Ivanishin for the one-hour habitability test. The crew will arrange the cabin to suit the four space residents and report their comfort levels to engineers on the ground.

While they were setting up Crew Dragon for the test, the three NASA astronauts also had time for ultrasound eye scans, microfluid studies and orbital plumbing work. The two cosmonauts, including Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner, juggled a variety of Russian space research and tested Soyuz crew ship communications gear.

Space Exploration in a Time of Social Turmoil

The Expedition 63 crew welcomes Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station. (Credits: NASA/Bill Stafford)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The contrast was jarring. In one browser window, two NASA astronauts were making their way to the International Space Station (ISS) after the first orbital launch of a crew from U.S. soil in nearly 9 years.

In another window, scenes of chaos played out as protests over the death of George Floyd after his arrest by Minneapolis police erupted into violent clashes across the country.

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Soyuz Booster Launches Defense Satellite from Plesetsk

PLESETSK, Russia (Roscosmos PR) — Today, on May 22, 2020 at 07:31 UTC the Russian Aerospace Forces operational crew successfully launched the Soyuz-2.1b carrier rocket with a Ministry of Defense spacecraft onboard.

The launch and injection into orbit went as planned. In two minutes after the launch the Titov Main Test and Space Systems Control Centre automated complex acquired the Soyuz 2.1b rocket track.

At the designated time, the spacecraft was injected into the final orbit and acquired by the ground control means of the Russian Aerospace Forces. The satellite maintains stable telemetry connection, all the onboard systems function as planned.

This is the third Soyuz-2 carrier rocket launch from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in 2020. The Soyuz-2 space rocket complex flight tests at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome began on November 8, 2004. For the last 16 years 45 launches Soyuz-2 carrier rockets of various types have been performed from the site.

Congress Seeks Answers on Sudden Resignation of NASA Human Spaceflight Head

Douglas Loverro (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The chairwoman of the House Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics says she wants answers following the abrupt resignation of NASA’s head of human spaceflight, Douglas Loverro, on the eve of a crucial human flight test of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft.

“I am deeply concerned over this sudden resignation, especially eight days before the first scheduled launch of US astronauts on US soil in almost a decade. Under this Administration, we’ve seen a pattern of abrupt departures that have disrupted our efforts at human space flight,” tweeted Rep. Kendra Horn (D-Okla.)

“The bottom line is that, as the Committee that oversees NASA, we need answers,” she added.

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NASA Completes Negotiations for Extra Soyuz Seat

Luca Parmitano during Soyuz redocking (Credit: ESA/NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — To ensure the agency keeps its commitment for safe operations via a continuous U.S. presence aboard the International Space Station until commercial crew capabilities are routinely available, NASA has completed negotiations with the State Space Corporation Roscosmos to purchase one additional Soyuz seat for a launch this fall.

The agency received no responses from U.S. suppliers to a synopsis issued in the fall of 2019 for crew transportation in 2020. Boeing and SpaceX are in the final stages of development and testing of new human space transportation systems that will launch astronauts from American soil, including NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission scheduled for launch no earlier than May 27.

In case you missed it, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine shared why the Demo-2 mission is essential.

Editor’s Note: SpaceNews reports the price is $90.25 million.

Video: ESA Astronauts Discuss Landing in Soyuz Spacecraft

Video Caption: Take a break with ESA astronauts Alexander Gerst, Samantha Cristoforetti, Luca Parmitano and Thomas Pesquet as they discuss living and working in space. In this video, our astronauts talk about their experiences of landing in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft upon returning from the International Space Station.

During a shared coffee break, Luca compares his first landing to his most recent landing – the second of which he found much softer than the first. Thomas finds humour in his experience of landing horizontally, while Alex describes a particularly high gravitational load on his return to Earth.

This clip is part of a series of four filmed in February 2020, following Luca’s return from the ISS mission on 6 February. It was filmed in the crew quarters of the German Aerospace Center DLR’s :envihab facility next to ESA’s European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany.

For more about Luca’s Beyond mission and other ESA astronaut-related content, visit the Exploration blog: https://blogs.esa.int/exploration/

Progress Resupply Ship Docks with Space Station

Progress 75 supply ship. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Traveling about 260 miles over Northwestern China, south of the Mongolian border, the unpiloted Russian Progress 75 cargo ship docked at 1:12 a.m. EDT to the Zvezda Service Module on the Russian segment of the complex.

Progress 75 will remain docked at the station for more than seven months before departing in December for its deorbit in Earth’s atmosphere.

For almost 20 years, humans have lived and worked continuously aboard the International Space Station, advancing scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies, making research breakthroughs not possible on Earth. As a global endeavor, 239 people from 19 countries have visited the unique microgravity laboratory that has hosted more than 2,800 research investigations from researchers in 108 countries.

Learn more about station activities by following @space_station and @ISS_Research Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

NASA TV to Provide Live Coverage of Progress Resupply Ship’s Launch and Docking

A Soyuz rocket launches the Progress MS-13 cargo ship to the International Space Station. (Credit: Roscosmos)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA Television will provide live coverage of the launch and docking of a Russian cargo spacecraft delivering almost three tons of food, fuel, and supplies to the International Space Station beginning at 9:30 p.m. EDT Friday, April 24.

The uncrewed Russian Progress 75 is scheduled to launch on a Soyuz rocket at 9:51 p.m. (6:51 a.m. Saturday, April 25, Baikonur time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

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NASA Astronauts Meir, Morgan, Crewmate Skripochka Return from Space Station

The Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft is seen as it lands in a remote area near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan with Expedition 62 crew members Jessica Meir and Drew Morgan of NASA, and Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos, Friday, April 17, 2020. Meir and Skripochka returned after 205 days in space, and Morgan after 272 days in space. All three served as Expedition 60-61-62 crew members onboard the International Space Station. (Credits: NASA/GCTC/Andrey Shelepin)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan  returned to Earth Friday, along with Soyuz Commander Oleg Skripochka of the Russian space agency Roscosmos.

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Soyuz Docks With International Space Station

The crew of Soyuz MS-16: Russian cosmonauts Ivan Vagner and Anatoly Ivanishin and with NASA astronaut Christopher Cassidy. (Credit: Roscosmos)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — The Soyuz spacecraft carrying NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner docked to the International Space Station at 10:13 a.m. EDT while both spacecraft were flying about 260 miles above the Atlantic Ocean.

Aboard the space station, NASA Flight Engineers  Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir and Expedition 62 Commander Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos will welcome the new crew members when the hatches between the two spacecraft are opened following standard pressurization and leak checks.

Watch the hatch opening on NASA TV and the agency’s website beginning at noon for hatch opening targeted for 12:15 p.m.

For continued coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get space station news, images and features via social media on Instagram at: @issISS on Facebook, and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

NASA Coverage Set for Chris Cassidy, Crewmates Flight to Space Station

Chris Cassidy

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — A trio of space travelers, including NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy, is scheduled to launch to the International Space Station on Thursday, April 9. NASA Television and the agency’s website will provide live coverage of the crew’s launch and arrival at the orbiting laboratory.

Cassidy, and Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, are set to launch aboard the Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 4:05 a.m. EDT (1:05 p.m. Kazakhstan time). The four-orbit, six-hour journey to the space station will be the third flight for Cassidy and Ivanishin and the first for Vagner.

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Japanese Astronaut Prepares to Fly on SpaceX Crew Dragon

Japanese astronaut Noguchi Soichi. (Credit: NASA)

JAXA has announced that astronaut Noguchi Soichi is preparing and training for a trip to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard SpaceX’s first operational Crew Dragon spacecraft.

Soichi will be flying to the orbiting facility for the third time. He previously flew aboard the U.S. space shuttle on the STS-114 mission and on Russia’s Soyuz TMA-17 transport. Soichi has spent 177 days in space.

A Crew Dragon flight test with astronauts aboard is currently scheduled for mid- to late May. The schedule for the first operational flight has not been announced yet.

Space Biology on Station Ahead of Cargo and Crew Ship Activities

The International Space Station as it appears in 2018. Zarya is visible at the center of the complex, identifiable by its partially retracted solar arrays. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — The Expedition 62 crew wrapped up the workweek with more space biology research to understand what living in space does to the human body. The International Space Station is also getting ready to send off a U.S. cargo craft and swap crews.

A 3D bioprinter inside the station’s Columbus laboratory module is being deactivated and stowed today after a week of test runs without using human cells. NASA Flight Engineer Jessica Meir packed up the device that seeks to demonstrate manufacturing human organs to help patients on Earth. The Bio-Fabrication Facility may even lead to future crews printing their own food and medicines on missions farther away from Earth.

NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan checked out hardware for an experiment exploring how to create heart cells on the orbiting lab. The investigation may lead to advanced treatments for cardiac conditions on Earth and in space.

Morgan and Meir are also getting the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship ready for its departure on April 6. The duo gathered U.S. spacesuit components and packed them inside Dragon for engineering analysis on the ground.

During the morning, Commander Oleg Skripochka continued servicing a variety of laptop computers in the station’s Russian segment. After lunchtime, the veteran cosmonaut serviced hardware for a pair of experiments, one looking at the Earth’s upper atmosphere and the other to understand the degradation of station gear.

Back on Earth at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, three new Expedition 63 crewmembers are in final preparations for their April 9 launch to the station. NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Roscosmos cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner stepped out of the Cosmonaut Hotel today for pre-launch activities celebrating spaceflight heroes such as Yuri Gagarin.

Report: OneWeb to File for Bankruptcy

The Financial Times reports that OneWeb is preparing to file for bankruptcy and lay off most of its employees after failing to obtain additional financing from investors to continue building out its satellite broadband constellation.

OneWeb collapses after SoftBank funding talks fall through

The story is behind a paywall, so I don’t have a lot of details at this point. OneWeb will apparently keep a small team in place to operate the 74 satellites the company has launched into orbit while it seeks addition funding needed to emerge from bankruptcy.

Attempts to obtain additional funding from the company’s main backer, SoftBank, fell through.

The news comes less than a week after a Russian Soyuz booster launched 34 OneWeb satellites. Two previous launches in February 2019 and February 2020 had orbited 6 and 34 spacecraft, respectively.

OneWeb, which was founded by Greg Wyler, has been planning to launch 680 satellites in order to provide broadband services to any location on Earth.

The company’s main competitor is SpaceX, which has launched 362 satellites as part of its Starlink constellation. SpaceX has received approvals to launch nearly 12,000 Starlink satellites. Elon Musk’s company has also submitted an application to the Federal Communications Commission to launch an additional 30,000 spacecraft to bring the total to 42,000.

Preparations Continue for Soyuz Crew Flight to ISS

The crew of Soyuz MS-16: Russian cosmonauts Ivan Vagner and Anatoly Ivanishin and with NASA astronaut Christopher Cassidy. (Credit: Roscosmos)

BAIKONUR COSMODROME, Kazakhstan, March 25, 2020 (Roscosmos PR) — The final pre-flight training session of the prime and backup crews of Soyuz MS-16 transport manned spacecraft under the program of the ISS 62/63 Expeditions to the International Space Station (ISS) began at the Baikonur Launch Site.

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