After a six-hour spaceflight, NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik, Sergey Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos and Paolo Nespoli of ESA (European Space Agency) arrived at the International Space Station at 5:54 p.m. EDT Friday to continue important scientific research in the orbiting laboratory.
The three crewmates launched aboard the Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 11:41 a.m. (9:41 p.m. Baikonur time), orbited Earth four times, and docked at the space station. Following standard pressurization and leak checks, the hatches between the spacecraft and station will be opened.
The arrival of Bresnik, Ryazanskiy and Nespoli restored the station’s crew to six people, which includes Expedition 52 Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of Roscosmos and Flight Engineers Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer of NASA. The new Expedition 52 crew members will spend more than four months conducting approximately 250 science investigations in fields such as biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences and technology development.
The newly-expanded Expedition 52 crew soon will conduct new science investigations arriving on SpaceX’s 12th NASA-contracted commercial resupply mission targeted to launch in August. Investigations the crew will work on include a study developed by the Michael J. Fox Foundation of the pathology of Parkinson’s disease to aid in the development of therapies for patients on Earth. The crew will use the special nature of microgravity in a new lung tissue study to advance understanding of how stem cells work and pave the way for further use of the microgravity environment in stem cell research. Expedition astronauts also will assemble and deploy a microsatellite investigation seeking to validate the concept of using microsatellites in low-Earth orbit to support critical operations, such as providing lower-cost Earth imagery in time-sensitive situations such as tracking severe weather and detecting natural disasters.
During their expedition, the crew members also are scheduled to receive an Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft launched from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia and a Russian Progress resupply mission, each delivering several tons of food, fuel, supplies and research such as an investigation to demonstrate the merits of manufacturing fiber optic filaments in microgravity.
Whitson, Fischer and Yurchikhin are scheduled to remain aboard the station until September. Shortly after their departure, NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Joseph Acaba and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin will join the Expedition 53 crew. Bresnik, Ryazanskiy and Nespoli are scheduled to return in December.
For more than 16 years, humans have lived and worked continuously aboard the International Space Station, advancing scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies, making research breakthroughs not possible on Earth that will enable long-duration human and robotic exploration into deep space. A global endeavor, more than 200 people from 18 countries have visited the unique microgravity laboratory that has hosted more than 1,900 research investigations from researchers in more than 95 countries.