Record Breaking NASA Astronaut to Return to Earth on Wednesday Aboard Russian Soyuz as Private Mission to ISS Looms

NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei studies cotton genetics for the Plant Habitat-5 space agriculture experiment. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Three Expedition 66 Flight Engineers are returning to Earth in less than two days as four private astronauts prepare for their mission to the International Space Station. The crew activities haven’t stopped the ongoing space research as the orbital residents studied biology, botany, and physics on Monday.

NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei is nearing the end of his mission as he prepares to return to Earth on Wednesday after a NASA-record breaking 355 days in space. Soyuz Commander Anton Shkaplerov will lead Vande Hei and Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov inside the Soyuz MS-19 crew ship when they undock from the Rassvet module at 3:21 a.m. EDT on Wednesday. The trio will parachute to a landing just over four hours later.

(more…)

Russian Cosmonauts Enter Space Station Wearing Flight Suits with Colors Similar to Ukraine Flag

Soyuz MS-21 crew members aboard the International Space Station. (Credit: Roscosmos webcast)

A three man crew of Russian cosmonauts entered the International Space station today wearing bright yellow flight suits with blue trim — colors very similar to those used on the flag of Ukraine, which Russia invaded last month.

Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev, and Sergey Korsakov arrived at the station on the Soyuz MS-21 spacecraft at 3:12 p.m. EDT. They were launched aboard a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

It’s possible they are protesting Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to attack Ukraine. In which case, they are extremely brave. Or it might just be a giant coincidence. They might have chosen these colors — which have been used on the station before — months earlier.

The cosmonauts joined Expedition 66 Commander Anton Shkaplerov and cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov of Roscosmos, NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei, Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, and Kayla Barron, and European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer.

On March 30, a Soyuz spacecraft will return as scheduled carrying hkaplerov, Dubrov and Vande Hei back to Earth. Upon their return, Vande Hei will hold the American record for the longest single human spaceflight mission of 355 days.

NASA to Air Briefing, Spacewalks to Upgrade Space Station

Spacewalkers Victor Glover and Kate Rubins are pictured at the mast canister, installing bracket support struts to the base of the solar array on Feb, 28th 2021. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Crew members from International Space Station Expedition 66 will conduct two spacewalks Tuesday, March 15, and Wednesday, March 23, to continue upgrades to the orbiting laboratory.

NASA will discuss the upcoming spacewalks during a news conference at 2 p.m. EDT Monday, March 14. Live coverage of the news conference and spacewalks will air on NASA Television, the agency’s website, and the NASA app.

(more…)

Russian Cargo Craft Blasts off to Resupply Station

Russia’s Progress 80 resupply ship blasted off on Feb. 14 at 11:25 p.m. EST from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. (Credit: NASA TV)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — The uncrewed Russian Progress 80 is safely in orbit headed for the  International Space Station following launch at 11:25 p.m. EST (9:25 a.m. on Feb. 15 Baikonur time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

(more…)

Astronaut Hits 300 Days in Space, On Way to Break NASA Record

NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei studies cotton genetics for the Plant Habitat-5 space agriculture experiment. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei has lived in space continuously for 300 days since launching and docking to the orbiting lab on April 9, 2021. He is on his way to surpassing Christina Koch’s 328-day mission on March 3 and Scott Kelly’s 340 days on March 15. Vande Hei will return to Earth on March 30 with a NASA astronaut record-breaking 355 consecutive days in Earth orbit.

(more…)

Cosmic Kiss Mission Begins as Matthias Maurer Arrives at the Space Station

ESA astronaut of German nationality Matthias Maurer. (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — The four Crew-3 astronauts were launched in a new SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, called Endurance, atop a Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA at 02:03 GMT/03:03 CET Thursday 11 November. They arrived at the Station around 22 hours later for a six-month stay in orbit. 

(more…)

NASA, SpaceX Update Crew Launch and Return Dates

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA and SpaceX have adjusted target launch and return dates for upcoming crew missions to and from the International Space Station based on visiting vehicle traffic.

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission now is targeting launch no earlier than Sunday, Oct. 31, with NASA astronauts Raja ChariTom Marshburn and  Kayla Barron and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer. Crew-3 will launch on a new Crew Dragon spacecraft from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to begin a six-month science mission at the space station.

Crew-3 astronauts will arrive at the space station for a short handover period with the Crew-2 astronauts and other crew members on Expedition 66. Crew-2 NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Aki Hoshide, and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet are targeting early-to-mid November for a return to Earth inside Crew Dragon Endeavour off the coast of Florida.

Following Crew-3, the next crew rotation mission is targeted for no earlier than mid-April 2022 with the partner spacecraft and launch vehicle to be determined at a later date.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is working with industry through a public-private partnership to provide safe, reliable, and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station, which will allow for additional research time and will increase the opportunity for discovery aboard humanity’s testbed for exploration. The space station remains the springboard to space exploration, including future missions to the Moon and eventually to Mars.