First Space Station Crew 55/56 of 2018 Available for News Conference, Interviews
NASA astronauts A.J. (Drew) Feustel and Ricky Arnold, and crewmate Oleg Artemyev of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, will discuss their upcoming mission to the International Space Station in a news conference at 2 p.m. EST Thursday, Dec. 7, at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
The news conference will be broadcast live on NASA Television and streamed on the agency’s website. The crew will be available for in person or remote media interviews afterward.
Feustel and Arnold will launch to the space station aboard the Russian Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft, commanded by Artemyev, in March 2018, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. This will be the second time in five months that two NASA astronauts will launch together on a Soyuz spacecraft to the station.
The trio will join the Expedition 55 crew, and return to Earth in August 2018 as members of Expedition 56. Arnold, a former classroom teacher, and Feustel will continue NASA’s Year of Education on Station initiatives to inspire educators and students. This will be Feustel’s third spaceflight, and he will serve as a flight engineer for Expedition 55 and commander for Expedition 56. This will be Arnold and Artemyev’s second spaceflights, and they will serve as flight engineers on Expeditions 55 and 56.
To request credentials to participate in person or to reserve an interview opportunity, U.S. reporters must contact Johnson's newsroom at 281-483-5111 by 4 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 6. The deadline has passed for international media to attend in person.
Reporters who wish to participate by telephone must call Johnson's newsroom no later than 1:45 p.m. on Dec. 7. Those following the briefing on social media may ask questions using #askNASA.
During a planned six-month mission, the crew members will take part in about 250 research investigations and technology demonstrations not possible on Earth in order to advance scientific knowledge of Earth, space, physical and biological sciences. Science conducted in the orbiting laboratory continues to yield benefits for humanity and will enable future long-duration human and robotic exploration into deep space.
Feustel is from Lake Orion, Michigan, and earned a doctorate in Geological Sciences specializing in seismology from Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, in addition to degrees from Oakland Community College, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana. NASA selected Feustel as an astronaut in 2000 and he has flown on two spaceflights. In 2009, Feustel served on space shuttle mission STS-125, the final servicing mission for NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. Feustel also served on STS-134 to deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer to the International Space Station on the final flight of space shuttle Endeavour. Feustel has logged more than 29 days in space and spent more than 42 hours on six spacewalks.
NASA selected Arnold as an astronaut in 2004. The Maryland native worked in the marine sciences and as a teacher in his home state, as well as in countries such as Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia. He accumulated 12 days, 19 hours and 29 minutes in space during STS-119, during which space shuttle Discovery delivered the final pair of power-generating solar array wings and a truss element for the space station. While aboard station, he conducted two spacewalks totaling 12 hours and 34 minutes.
Three experienced spacefarers, including an ex-teacher, a former soldier in the Soviet Army and a veteran “Hubble Hugger”, gathered before the media at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas, on Thursday, 7 December, to discuss their upcoming voyage to the International Space Station (ISS). Two-time shuttle astronaut Drew Feustel, seasoned spacewalker Ricky Arnold and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev are slated to launch out of Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan aboard the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft early next spring and return to Earth in late summer.
The composition of ISS-bound crews has changed significantly over the course of the last year, following Russia’s decision to cut its number of cosmonauts aboard the station from three to two, in part due to ongoing problems getting its long-delayed Nauka (“Science”) module ready for flight. The original Soyuz MS-08 crew line-up was expected to feature “rookie” cosmonaut Sergei Prokopiev in the Commander’s seat, with veteran spacefarer Oleg Artemyev seated to his left as Flight Engineer-1 and seasoned NASA astronaut Drew Feustel in the right-side seat as Flight Engineer-2.
With the decision to reduce Russia’s ISS crew, Prokopiev was dropped from Soyuz MS-08 and Artemyev assumed command, with Feustel advanced into the systems-intensive Flight Engineer-1 role. NASA formally announced Feustel’s assignment in January 2017. However, planning was already at an advanced level to assign other U.S. astronauts to fill the empty right-side Flight Engineer-2 seat, with Ricky Arnold named in March 2017 to join Artemyev and Feustel on Soyuz MS-08.
On launch day, Artemyev will assume the center command seat aboard the spacecraft. Born on 28 December 1970 in Riga—then part of the Soviet Union, but today the capital of independent Latvia—his upbringing was multi-faceted. He studied at Tallinn Polytechnical School, graduating in 1990, then served with the Soviet Army in Vilnius, the capital of today’s independent Lithuania. Artemyev then began working with the Energia corporation and in 1998 graduated from Bauman Moscow State Technical University, with a degree in low temperature technology and physics. He was selected as a cosmonaut in May 2003 and participated in the 15-day (November 2007) and 105-day (July 2009) precursor missions for the Mars-500 program. Artemyev later served on the backup crew for Soyuz TMA-10M, before launching on his first mission aboard Soyuz TMA-12M in March 2014. During 169 days in orbit, Artemyev performed two sessions of Extravehicular Activity (EVA), totaling 12 hours and 34 minutes. He returned to Earth in September 2014.
At Artemyev’s left shoulder will be Dr. Drew Feustel, a veteran of six spacewalks, three in support of ISS construction and maintenance and a further three to service and upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). Born in Lancaster, Penn., on 25 August 1965, he received much of his schooling in Michigan and earned an associate’s degree from Oakland Community College, working part-time as an auto-mechanic. He entered Purdue University and graduated with a degree in solid earth sciences in 1989 and a master’s in geophysics in 1991. Feustel then moved to Ontario, Canada, to pursue a PhD in geological sciences at Queen’s University. Having submitted a thesis investigating seismic-wave attenuation in underground mines and measurement techniques and applications to site characterization, he gained his doctorate in 1995.
Feustel worked as a professional geophysicist, installing and operating microseismic monitoring equipment in underground mines, and later for the Exxon Mobil Exploration Company, before being selected by NASA as an astronaut candidate in July 2000. Assigned to his first space mission—the STS-125 visit to Hubble—in October 2006, Feustel trained for almost three years and in May 2009 performed three complex spacewalks to install new instruments and repair old ones, in what was expected to be the final time that human eyes will see the iconic space telescope up close and personal. Two years later, in May 2009, Feustel led three EVAs outside the space station during STS-134, the final voyage of shuttle Endeavour, which saw the installation of the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer. All told, he has spent more than 28 days in space and accrued over 42 hours of spacewalking.
A self-confessed Formula 1 fan, Feustel spoke candidly to AmericaSpace’s Michael Galindo about the close analogy between flying in space and performing in motorsports. He drew attention to the public view of a racer heading for the finishing line. “But to see the whole world that exists behind that is like seeing everything behind the scenes at NASA,” he said. “There’s an army of people working to put someone in a rocket to ride into space. All the things that happen behind the scenes [are] fascinating. It’s the same in the racing world, to see what they go through to put someone in a car, to race around a track.”
In the right-hand seat aboard Soyuz MS-08 is Ricky Arnold, a former high school math and science teacher, who was selected as one of three “Educator-Astronauts” by NASA back in May 2004. Arnold hails from Cheverly, Md., where he was born on 26 November 1963. He earned a degree in accounting from Frostburg State University in 1985 and entered the U.S. Navy as an oceanographic technician, before completing his teacher certification program and joining the staff as a science educator at John Hanson Middle School in Waldorf, Md. Whilst there, Arnold completed a master’s degree in marine, estuarine and environmental science at the University of Maryland, graduating in 1992.
Subsequent teaching positions carried him to Casablanca, Morocco, teaching biology and marine environmental science, and he later served as department chair at the American International School in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Prior to his selection by NASA, Arnold also taught math and science in West Papua, Indonesia, and in Bucharest, Romania. Selected for astronaut training in May 2004, he qualified two years later and has served aboard the Aquarius undersea habitat. In the fall of 2007, Arnold was assigned to STS-119, a shuttle mission which would deliver the final set of power-producing solar arrays to the ISS. In March 2009, he spent almost 13 days in space and logged over 12 hours of spacewalking in two EVAs. Since his return from STS-119, he has served as assistant to the Chief of the Astronaut Office for EVA and Robotics and led a multi-national crew in a six-day European Space Agency (ESA) expedition to map and explore a large cave network in Sardinia.
“The training flow for this will be shorter than my training flow for shuttle,” Arnold told AmericaSpace’s Michael Galindo of the highly constrained regimen to get him into space in March 2018. He praised the teamwork in the United States, Russia and the International Partners for giving him the training that he needs, “and not try to bury me”. That said, when he was named to the crew in March 2017, he was put through many months’ worth of academics work in just four weeks. In some cases, he began Soyuz simulator sessions, before he had even completed the classroom work. On one particular day, Arnold and his crewmates were looking at the Soyuz environmental control systems, prompting him to wish that he knew more beforehand. At the same time, his previous work as a Capcom in Mission Control and in the simulator had prepared him well for the shortened training flow.
Current planning calls for Soyuz MS-08 to launch from Baikonur on 10 March 2018, whereupon Artemyev, Feustel and Arnold will embark on a well-trodden “fast rendezvous” profile to dock at the station within six hours and four orbits of Earth. Artemyev will guide his spacecraft to a docking at the station’s space-facing (or “zenith”) Poisk module. The three new arrivals will be welcomed aboard by Expedition 55 Commander Anton Shkaplerov and his crewmates Scott Tingle of NASA and Norishige Kanai of Japan. Shkaplerov’s crew are expected to return to Earth aboard Soyuz MS-07 on 19 April, whereupon Feustel will assume command of the ISS. His Expedition 56 increment will transition to its full six-person strength on 25 April, when Soyuz MS-09 arrives, carrying Russian cosmonaut Sergei Prokopiev, U.S. astronaut Jeanette Epps—the first African-American to perform a long-duration space mission—and Germany’s Alexander Gerst.
During their time aboard the station, Feustel, Artemyev and Arnold will participate in over 250 new and ongoing research investigations, as well as supporting the arrival or departure of several unpiloted visiting vehicles. SpaceX is expected to launch three Dragon cargo ships in March, June and August, with Orbital ATK—whose acquisition by Northrop Grumman Corp. was formally approved last month—slated to despatch one Cygnus freighter to the ISS in May. The visiting vehicle manifest for mid-year promises to be a busy one, with the departure of two Russian Progress cargo craft and the arrival of another anticipated between June and August, as well as Japan’s next H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV).
It also remains to be seen when the inaugural unpiloted flights of Boeing’s Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon will take place, although both are provisionally targeted to fly next year, paving the road for piloted test flights and regular Commercial Crew Program (CCP) operations as early as spring 2019. In his remarks to AmericaSpace’s Michael Galindo, Feustel noted that “if we were betting on it”, he does not expect to see a Commercial Crew vehicle at the station during his stay. “We’re getting to the point now where things keep getting moved down the road, but they’re getting moved less and less and less each time, so at some time we’re going to hit on the actual date where we’re going to see some of these things launch into space.”
Feustel, Artemyev and Arnold are expected to return to Earth in late August 2018, wrapping up an expedition lasting just a few days shy of six full months. It will bring to a close NASA’s “Year of Education”, which will have seen a full academic year with at least one professional classroom practitioner aboard the ISS. Current Expedition 53 crewman Joe Acaba, a former high school math and science teacher, has been on the station since September 2017 and will remain until February 2018, with fellow math and science educator Ricky Arnold following him from March-August 2018.
Medics clear Russian cosmonauts for flight to world’s sole orbiter
NASA astronauts Andrew Feustel and Richard Arnold are set to fly to the space station along with the Russian cosmonauts as members of the basic crew
Russian cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev and Alexei Ovchinin have been cleared by medics for their flight as members of a new expedition to the International Space Station (ISS) scheduled for March 15, the press office of Russia’s State Space Corporation Roscosmos reported on Wednesday.
"The main medical commission held a session at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, which analyzed the data of medical examinations of cosmonauts from the basic and back-up crews of the 55/56th long-term expedition to the ISS over the period of their pre-flight training," Roscosmos said.
"Following the results of the commission’s session, Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev and Alexei Ovchinin have been cleared for a space flight by their health condition," the press office said.
Artemyev is a member of the new expedition’s main crew while Ovchinin is included in the back-up team.
A Soyuz MS-08 manned spacecraft with a new expedition crew is scheduled to blast off to the ISS on March 15 from the Baikonur spaceport.
Events Airing Live (all times Eastern)
Wednesday, March 21, 12:45 p.m.: Launch of the Expedition 55 crew. NASA astronaut A.J. (Drew) Feustel and Ricky Arnold and cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev of the Russian space agency Roscosmos launch on the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft to the International Space Station, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Launch is scheduled at 1:44 p.m.
Friday, March 23, 3 p.m.: Docking of Expedition 55 crew. The Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft carrying Expedition 55 crew members A.J. (Drew) Feustel and Ricky Arnold of NASA and Oleg Artemyev of the Russian space agency Roscosmos docks to the International Space Station. Docking is scheduled at 3:41 p.m.
Friday, March 23, 4:45 p.m.: Hatch opening and welcoming ceremony. The Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft hatch is opened, and new Expedition 55 crew members A.J. (Drew) Feustel and Ricky Arnold of NASA and Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos are welcomed aboard the International Space Station. Hatch opening is scheduled at approximately 5:20 p.m.
Two American astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut are ready for their journey to the International Space Station that begins on Wednesday, March 21.
Two American astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut are ready for their journey to the International Space Station that begins on Wednesday, March 21. Live coverage will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
At the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, NASA astronauts Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold, and cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, are set to launch in the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft at 1:44 p.m. EDT (11:44 p.m. Kazakhstan time) March 21.
After a two-day flight, the new crew members will dock to the station’s Poisk docking module at 3:41 p.m. Friday, March 23. About two hours later, hatches between the Soyuz and the station will open, and the new residents will be greeted as part of the Expedition 55 crew by station commander Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos, Scott Tingle of NASA and Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
Coverage of Expedition 55 launch and docking activities is as follows (all times EDT):
Wednesday, March 21
Friday, March 23
A full complement of video of the crew’s pre-launch activities in Baikonur will air on NASA TV in the days preceding launch.
The crew members of Expedition 55-56 will continue work on hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science aboard the International Space Station, humanity’s only permanently occupied microgravity laboratory. This crew continues the long-term increase in U.S. crew size from three to four, allowing NASA to maximize time dedicated to research on the space station.
During his flight, former educator Ricky Arnold will wrap up NASA’s Year of Education on Station, an initiative to engage students and educators in human spaceflight and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers.
Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft installed on launch pad at Baikonur spaceport
March 19. /TASS/. The Soyuz-FG carrier rocket and Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft have been installed on a launch pad at the Baikonur spaceport in Kazakhstan, a source in Russia’s Roscosmos Space Corporation told TASS.
"In accordance with a decision made by the state commission, the Soyuz-FG carrier rocket and Soyuz MS-08 have been installed on the launch pad," the source said.
The spacecraft, scheduled to be launched on March 21 and dock to the International Space Station on March 23, will carry Russian cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev and NASA astronauts Richard Arnold and Andrew Feustel to orbit.