Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Updates to the ISS Status

Blast-off of Soyuz MS-02 from Baikonur.

Since the last post in September, there have been more comings and goings to and from the ISS. As usual. We last had seen the departure of Expedition 48 on Soyuz TMA-20M, leaving Expedition 49 in charge. Commanding the expedition, and the ISS, was Anatoly Ivanishin of Roscosmos, supported by Flight Engineers Kate Rubins (NASA) and Takuya Onishi (JAXA).

Posing in front of the Soyuz MS-02 capsule are Shane Kimbrough (NASA), Soyuz Commander Sergey Ryzhikov (Roscosmos) and Andrei Norisenko (Roscosmos).

The next to arrive at the station were the crew of Soyuz MS-02 on October 21. They brought the crew total back to six. Astronaut Kimbrough was making his second spaceflight, having flown before on the Space Shuttle Endeavor. Borisenko is also on his second trip to the ISS, having served before in 2011 on expedition 27/28 and as commander of the ISS for three months. Ryzhikov is making his first flight.

View through the station cupola. Cygnus can be seen docking to the station in the upper left.
On October 23, the Orbital AK supply ship Cygnus made a visit to the station, bringing supplies and experiments. Cygnus lifted up from the Virginia Wallops-Island launch site on the newly-redesigned Antares rocket.
Cygnus parked near the station awaiting grappling by the robotic arm.
This Cygnus vessel was named SS Alan Poindexter, after the NASA astronaut of Shuttle Atlantis STS-122 mission that brought the Columbia module to the station. The Cygnus was docked to the Node-1 hatch. It will stay at the station until November 18.
Astronaut Kate Rubin inside the Soyuz MS-01 capsule during a routine spacesuit checkout procedure. This picture shows well the cramped nature of the capsule interior.
 On October 29 it was time for the next crew transfer to begin. Expedition 49 ended when MS-01 undocked from the station, and returned astronaut Kate Rubins, cosmonaut Ivanishin, and astronaut Takuya to Kazakhstan. With their departure, Expedition 50 began with Astronaut Shane Kimbrough assuming command duties.

Retrorockets fire to safely land MS-01 on the flat steppes of Kazakhstan.
Now ISS awaits the next crew of Expedition 50/51, scheduled to launch on November 17. Below, you can see their ship, the Soyuz MS-03 awaiting them on the launch pad in Baikonur. Behind the ship is a telephoto-effect view of the recent Supermoon lunar event.

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