Mission updates

Helicopters are standing by…

In Kazakhstan the weather is good for tonight’s landing. The helicopters that will arrive first at Luca, Karen and Fyodor’s landing site are ready to roll…

Super Luca: the proof

This entry was written yesterday by Volare mission director Roland Luettgens: Today we had our weekly crew conference with Luca and we had quite a list of topics to talk about. The crew conference is a weekly coordination between astronauts and the Control Centres. We talk about many topics including details about activities to come. Luca is preparing to relocate the Soyuz spacecraft on Friday so we had a lot to talk about. As usual, first we performed a voice check between Luca and us to ensure we can hear each other and the audio quality is good. After this check, we turn on the camera inside the Columbus module so that...

Many changes before Luca returns

ESA mission director Roland Luettgens keeps us up to date on Luca’s Volare mission: There is an incredible period of activity around the International Space Station these days with many things happening onboard as well as on ground over the next three weeks. In three weeks Luca will be back on Earth but the activity planning between now and when he returns has changed considerably. Tuesday 22 October:  Cygnus unberthing The Cygnus spacecraft will leave the Space Station around midday. The ground teams and astronauts are busy preparing for its departure. Luca and crewmate Karen will operate the Canadian Robotics Arm to release the spacecraft. Like all spacecraft that do not land...

Luca Parmitano talks to finalists of the Volare Space R...

From 400 km above the surface of Earth, ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano talked with high-school students during the finals of the Volare Space Robotics Challenge. Seven teams entered remote-controlled robots that battled on a mock-up of the International Space Station. Their mission: to unload cargo from ESA’s Automated Transfer Vehicle as quickly as possible while avoiding objects. Students at ‘ground control’ gave instructions wirelessly from the control centre next door. Multipliers added more strategy to the competition. The two-day event was the culmination of lots of hard work from the seven teams of high-school students. The highlight for many students was visiting ESA’s laboratories and of course a live call with ESA...

Awaiting the next resupply ship

Volare mission director Roland Luettgens sends an update on the next spacecraft to visit the International Space Station: The crew on the International Space Station is getting ready for receiving another visiting vehicle at the end of this week. After a few weeks of busy vehicle traffic, the crew has been reduced to three instead of six. The next expedition crew members, Oleg Kotov, Sergei Ryazanskiy and Mike Hopkins  are still on ground and getting ready to fly to the Space Station on 25 September. They are called Expedition 38 and will be Luca’s crewmates until he returns in November. Until then a lot is happening on Station and at the Control...

Columbus Control Centre ready for Progress departure

‘Vehicle traffic’ is the term we use for every spaceship that goes to or leaves the International Space Station. Currently there are four attached to the Station: ATV-4, two Soyuz (one each for each expedition) and one Progress. Every couple of weeks, we have one of those vehicles coming or going. Of course, the most recent arrival was Europe’s ATV-4. Progress 50, which is docked on the bottom side of the International Space Station, will depart this evening at 20:44 GMT. After separation from the Station, the Progress will move down and away from it. The astronauts will take pictures and watch the Progress depart. Progress 50, like all other Progress vehicles,...

Columbus Control Centre busy with science

In a return to our normal schedule after last week’s EVA, we have started to deploy major elements for the Biolab facility inside Columbus. Biolab supports biological experiments on micro-organisms, cells, tissue cultures, small plants and small invertebrates. Performing life science experiments in space identifies the role that weightlessness plays at all levels of an organism, from its effects on a single cell to its impact on a complex organism, including humans. Some of the activities we are currently conducting involve using items that arrived on ATV-4 last month. Last week, Luca spent several hours installing a new microscope. This was quite a complex activity that was prepared over several months by...

Second spacewalk ends early

NASA reports: Expedition 36 Flight Engineers Chris Cassidy of NASA and ESA’s Luca Parmitano ended their spacewalk at 13:29 GMT, 15:39 CEST, only 1 hour, 32 minutes into the planned 6 1/2 hour venture outside the International Space Station. Flight Director David Korth decided to terminate the spacewalk early after Parmitano reported a buildup of water inside his helmet. After returning the airlock, Parmitano performed an expedited process to remove his suit. Both astronauts are safely back in the space station, and engineers are continuing to evaluate data to determine the cause of the leak.