New Crew Launching Wednesday as Space Research Continues

The Soyuz rocket that will launch three new crew members to the station on Wednesday stands at the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit:NASA/Bill Ingalls
The Soyuz rocket that will launch three new crew members to the station on Wednesday stands at the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

The International Space Station is gearing up for the arrival of three new crew members due to begin their mission on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the Expedition 67 astronauts continue researching a wide array of microgravity phenomena to benefit humans on and off the Earth.

The Soyuz MS-22 rocket that will launch NASA astronaut Frank Rubio and Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin to the space station stands at its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The trio will liftoff inside the Soyuz crew ship at 9:54 a.m. EDT on Wednesday and dock to the Rassvet module less than three-and-a-half hours later beginning a six-month research mission in Earth orbit. NASA will broadcast the launch live on NASA TV, the app, and its website, beginning at 9 a.m.

Just over a week later, three cosmonauts who have been living in space since March 18 will board their Soyuz MS-21 crew ship and return to Earth. The Soyuz vehicle, with station Commander Oleg Artemyev and Flight Engineers Denis Matveev and Sergey Korsakov inside, will undock from the Prichal module, descend through Earth’s atmosphere, and parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan, ending the threesome’s six-month-long orbital journey. The trio spent Tuesday packing up cargo and personal gear for stowage inside the returning Soyuz and conditioning their bodies for the return to Earth’s gravity.

ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti will take over as station commander from Artemyev before he departs during the traditional Change of Command ceremony next week. The leadership change will be seen live on NASA TV, the agency’s app, and its website at 9:35 a.m. on Sept. 28.

Research operations aboard the station are always ongoing whether the astronauts run the experiments themselves or scientists remotely conduct the studies from control centers on the ground. Tuesday’s space science schedule saw the astronauts busy all day exploring biology, botany, physics, and robotics.

Humans and plants are significant topics of study in space as researchers learn to sustain crews in space for longer missions and farther away from Earth. NASA Flight Engineer Jessica Watkins scanned her arteries with an ultrasound device and measured her blood pressure on Tuesday to understand the risks of space radiation on the cardiovascular system. NASA astronaut Bob Hines planted vegetables for the soilless XROOTS botany study that explores using hydroponic and aeroponic techniques to grow crops in space.

Technology is also key to the success of crewed missions so astronauts can focus more on science activities and become less reliant on ground controllers. NASA Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren looked at how weightlessness affects the microstructures of foam through the KERMIT microscope to advance research and commercial opportunities on Earth and in space. Finally, astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA (European Space Agency) tested using a smartphone device to guide and control Astrobee robotic free-flyers while assisting crews with scientific operations.

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.

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