Expedition 68 Begins, SpaceX Crew Swap Planned for October

Expedition 68 Begins, SpaceX Crew Swap Planned for October

NASA astronauts (from left) Jessica Watkins, Bob Hines, and Frank Rubio pose for a portrait together inside the cupola, the International Space Station's
NASA astronauts (from left) Jessica Watkins, Bob Hines, and Frank Rubio pose for a portrait together inside the cupola, the International Space Station’s “window to the world.”

The Expedition 68 mission is officially underway with seven astronauts and cosmonauts living and working together aboard the International Space Station. The crew swaps aren’t over yet as four SpaceX Crew-5 members count down to their upcoming launch to the orbiting lab.

Commander Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA (European Space Agency) will lead station operations until she and fellow crewmates Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines, and Jessica Watkins return to Earth aboard the SpaceX Dragon Freedom crew ship in about two weeks. The quartet, who have been aboard the space station since April 27, spent Friday checking their Dragon pressure suits, packing personal items, and reviewing departure and landing procedures.

The homebound commercial crew is waiting for their replacements who are targeting a launch to the orbiting lab for no earlier than noon EDT on Wednesday, Oct. 5. SpaceX Crew-5 Commander Nicole Mann and Pilot Josh Cassada, both from NASA, with Mission Specialists Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Anna Kikina of Roscosmos, are due to arrive at the station one day after launching aboard the Dragon Endurance. They will spend a few days getting used to life on orbit before Cristoforetti and her three Freedom crewmates end their mission and parachute to Earth inside the Freedom crew ship.

In the meantime, first time space-flyer Frank Rubio of NASA is in his second week as a space station flight engineer. He arrived at the orbiting lab with fellow flight engineers Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitriy Petelin, both from Roscosmos, on Sept. 21 inside the Soyuz MS-22 crew ship.

Rubio spent the end of the week exploring how to use artificial intelligence to adapt materials manufacturing, such as fiber optics, to the vacuum of space for the Intelligent Glass Optics study. He swapped and observed glass fiber samples being pulled inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox. Petelin and Prokopyev and Petelin partnered together for a study exploring how microgravity affects the heart and blood vessels.v

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Mark Garcia

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Three Soyuz Crewmates Return to Earth, Finish Station Mission

Three Soyuz Crewmates Return to Earth, Finish Station Mission

The Soyuz MS-21 crew ship with three cosmonauts aboard is seen parachuting to a landing in Kazakhstan less than three-and-a-half hours after undocking from the space station. Credit: NASA TV
The Soyuz MS-21 crew ship with three cosmonauts aboard is seen parachuting to a landing in Kazakhstan less than three-and-a-half hours after undocking from the space station. Credit: NASA TV

Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev, and Sergey Korsakov landed on Earth at 6:57 a.m. EDT Thursday, Sept. 29 in Kazakhstan (4:57 p.m. Kazakhstan time), southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan. The trio departed the International Space Station in their Soyuz MS-21 spacecraft at 3:34 a.m.

The trio returns to Earth after 195 days in space that spanned 3,120 orbits of Earth and over 78 million miles.

During the mission, Artemyev completed five spacewalks totaling 33 hours, 12 minutes. He has now logged 561 days in space on his three flights.

Matveev completed four spacewalks totaling 26 hours, 7 minutes during the mission. He logged 195 days in space on his first flight.

Korsakov also logged 195 days in space on his first flight.

The trio will return by Russian helicopters to the recovery staging city in Karaganda, Kazakhstan, before boarding a Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center aircraft to return to their training base in Star City, Russia.

Remaining aboard the station is the seven-person crew of Expedition 66 with Station Commander Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA (European Space Agency), NASA astronauts Bob Hines, Kjell Lindgren, Frank Rubio, and Jessica Watkins, and Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin.

In October, NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 members – NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Koichi Wakata, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina – will join the Expedition 68 members aboard the station. Crew-5 will be the fifth crew rotation mission of SpaceX’s human space transportation system, and its sixth flight with astronauts, to the space station for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

The International Space Station has surpassed 20 years of continuous human presence, providing opportunities for unique technological demonstrations and research that help prepare for long-duration missions to the Moon and Mars while also improving life on Earth. To date, 260 people from 20 countries have visited the orbiting laboratory that has hosted more than 3,000 research investigations from researchers in more than 100 countries and areas.


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.

Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

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Mark Garcia

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Soyuz Crew Landing on Earth Soon Live on NASA TV

Soyuz Crew Landing on Earth Soon Live on NASA TV

The Soyuz MS-21 spacecraft is pictured moments after undocking from the station at 3:34 a.m. EDT today carrying three cosmonauts back to Earth.
The Soyuz MS-21 spacecraft is pictured moments after undocking from the station at 3:34 a.m. EDT today carrying three cosmonauts back to Earth.

NASA Television, the agency’s website, and the NASA app are now broadcasting live coverage of the return to Earth of a trio of spacefarers.

The Soyuz MS-21 spacecraft carrying Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev, and Sergey Korsakov will make its deorbit burn at 6:03 a.m. EDT to set the spaceship on its re-entry through Earth’s atmosphere for a landing in Kazakhstan at 6:57 a.m. (4:57 p.m. Kazakhstan time).


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.

Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

Get the latest from NASA delivered every week. Subscribe here: www.nasa.gov/subscribe

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Mark Garcia

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Soyuz Crew Undocks from Station for Return to Earth

Soyuz Crew Undocks from Station for Return to Earth

The Soyuz MS-21 spacecraft with three cosmonauts aboard departs the space station on time to return the crewmates to Earth. Credit: NASA TV
The Soyuz MS-21 spacecraft with three cosmonauts aboard departs the space station on time to return the crewmates to Earth. Credit: NASA TV

The Soyuz spacecraft undocked from the International Space Station at 3:34 a.m. EDT, carrying three people back to Earth. Live coverage on NASA TV, the agency’s website, and the NASA app will resume at 5:45 a.m. for the deorbit burn and landing of the spacecraft carrying Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev, and Sergey Korsakov. Their landing in Kazakhstan is targeted for approximately 6:57 a.m. (4:57 p.m. Kazakhstan time).

Expedition 68 officially began aboard the station at the time of undocking. Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA (European Space Agency) is the station commander for the crew consisting of NASA astronauts Bob Hines, Kjell Lindgren, Frank Rubio, and Jessica Watkins, and Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin.

The trio arrived at the station March 18 aboard the Soyuz MS-21 spacecraft. Artemyev returns to Earth after 195 days in space on his third mission. At the time of landing, Artemyev will have logged 561 days in space on his three flights.

This was the first flight for both Matveev and Korsakov. At the time of landing, the two cosmonauts will have each logged 195 days in space.


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.

Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

Get the latest from NASA delivered every week. Subscribe here: www.nasa.gov/subscribe

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Mark Garcia

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NASA TV Broadcasts Departure of Three Station Crewmembers

NASA TV Broadcasts Departure of Three Station Crewmembers

The Soyuz MS-21 crew ship is pictured docked to the Prichal docking module as the space station soared 259 miles above the Earth.
The Soyuz MS-21 crew ship is pictured docked to the Prichal docking module as the space station soared 259 miles above the Earth.

NASA is providing live coverage on NASA TV, the agency’s website, and the NASA app of the undocking and departure from the International Space Station of the Soyuz spacecraft that will return Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev, and Sergey Korsakov to Earth.

The trio arrived at the station March 18 aboard the Soyuz MS-21 spacecraft. Artemyev returns to Earth after 185 days in space on his third mission. At the time of landing, Artemyev will have logged 551 days in space on his three flights.

This was the first flight for both Matveev and Korsakov. At the time of landing, the two cosmonauts will have each logged 185 days in space.


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.

Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

Get the latest from NASA delivered every week. Subscribe here: www.nasa.gov/subscribe

Get The Details…

Mark Garcia

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