Sunday, August 28, 2016

Astronaut Jeff WIlliams Breaks Space Endurance Record

Jeff Williams on the recent EVA to install the International Docking Adapter.
Expedition 48 Commander and NASA astronaut Jeff Williams broke the US record of being in space the longest, passing the recent record made by year-long ISS astronaut Scott Kelly, who had reached 520 days in space, cumulative, from his several missions and year-long stay on the ISS. On August 24, Williams passed that mark, and by the time he returns home on September 6, he will have 534 days to his record. Williams has been on 4 missions.

Williams displays patches from the missions he has been involved with through his career.

Williams first went into space on the Space Shuttle Atlantis in May 2000, on mission STS-101, a resupply mission to the new ISS, during which he performed his first EVA. In 2002, he also spent a week as a diver in the deep sea lab Aquarius. He returned to space in Expedition 13 in 2006 for a six month stay and performed two more EVAs. In September 2009, Williams returned for another 6-month stay on ISS and became commander of Expedition 22. He was the back-up astronaut for Scott Kelly on the 1-year mission, which comprised expeditions 43 through 46. He is on his 4th mission, serving first as flight engineer on Expedition 47, now as Commander of Expedition 48. He is scheduled to return home on Tuesday, September 6.

Dragon Returns to Earth

Dragon cargo capsule about to splash into the Pacific. Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX achieved another successful conclusion to a Dragon cargo ISS mission Friday, when their Dragon space capsule safely splashed into the waters of the Pacific Ocean west of Baja California. It was their 9th cargo resupply of the orbital station. Inside the capsule were returning samples form experiments in astronaut biology, crystal development, and other microgravity experiments that can only be performed on the space station.

Artist depiction of International Docking Adapter at end of docking node, about to receive a future docking from a manned capsule. Credit: NASA.

One of the main missions of this Dragon flight was the safe delivery of the International Docking Adapter to ISS. Mostly constructed by Boeing and RPG Energia, the adaptor will allow the safe and quick docking of the various national and commercial space capsule that are in devlopment or currently in use. On August 19, Expedition 48 commander Jeff Williams and flight engineer Kate Rubins performed an EVA to help move the adapter from the Dragon storage section to its new docking port location.

 Kate Rubins works outside the ISS on an EVA to attach the new docking adapter.

 After a six-hour walk in space, the pair of astronauts finished their assembly tasks and returned to the station interior. The EVA was the 194th spacewalk working on assembly and ,aintenance of the ISS. The adapter they installed was the first of two such adapters, another one to be delivered on another flight. Starting with the first commercial crewed flight, possibly next year, and probably by SpaceX Dragon 2, Boeing and SpaceX capsules that are manned will use the new adapter ports.