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3 Astronauts Launching To ISS This Week, 3 Others Coming Home

KEY POINTS

  • 3 astronauts are launching to the ISS from Kazakhstan this week
  • They will only have a week together with the current residents of the ISS 
  • In November, the ISS will celebrate the 20th year of continuous human presence aboard the space lab

Three astronauts are set to launch to the International Space Station (ISS) this week to join the three astronauts currently aboard the orbiting laboratory. But their time together will be short-lived because the three current residents are already set to come home next week.

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov are scheduled to launch aboard a Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft Wednesday. The three will launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and are expected to arrive and dock to the ISS just hours later around 4:52 a.m EDT.

Live coverage of the 1:45 a.m. launch will be available on NASA Television beginning an hour prior at 12:45 a.m EDT. The spacecraft docking to the ISS will also be available live starting at 4 a.m EDT.

Once at the ISS, Rubins, Ryzhikov and Kud-Sverchkov will join Expedition 63 members Chris Cassidy, Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, who have been at the ISS for about six months. However, the six will only be together for a week because Cassidy, Ivanishin and Vagner are already scheduled to return back to on Oct. 21.

But before they leave, there will be a Change of Command Ceremony on Oct. 20, where Rubins, Ryzhikov and Kud-Sverchov will become Expedition 64, with Ryzhikov in command. The ceremony will also be featured live on NASA Television starting 4:15 p.m EDT.

Those who would like to watch NASA live streams can do so from various platforms in televisions, mobile devices or computers. This includes NASA’s official YouTube channel, Twitter and Facebook accounts. NASA TV is also available through the NASA app for both iOS and Android or television apps including Roku, Hulu and Apple TV.

Aboard the ISS, Expedition 64 crew members will perform scientific experiments and, Rubins will even vote from space for the second time.

On Nov. 2, the ISS will celebrate the 20th year of continuous human presence aboard the orbiting space station. As of May 2020, the ISS has hosted 240 people from 19 countries as well as thousands of completed and ongoing scientific investigations, NASA notes.

There have also been 231 spacewalks since December 1998, including the ones for construction and upgrades, while several astronauts have also set spaceflight records aboard the ISS.

This includes NASA astronaut Christina Koch who holds the record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman and was also part of the world’s first all-female spacewalk, which she conducted with NASA astronaut Jessica Meir.

The Earth, photographed by astronaut Nick Hague from the International Space Station on October 2, 2019 The Earth, photographed by astronaut Nick Hague from the International Space Station on October 2, 2019 Photo: NASA / Nick HAGUE

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Astronauts Prepare To Receive Cosmetics And A New Toilet : NPR

Northrup Grumman’s Antares rocket lifts off from the NASA Wallops test flight facility in Virginia on Oct. 2. The rocket was scheduled to deliver supplies to the International Space Station.

Thom Baur/Northrup Grumman /AP


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Thom Baur/Northrup Grumman /AP

Northrup Grumman’s Antares rocket lifts off from the NASA Wallops test flight facility in Virginia on Oct. 2. The rocket was scheduled to deliver supplies to the International Space Station.

Thom Baur/Northrup Grumman /AP

Hygiene and self care are vital — even in zero gravity. Which is why astronauts on the International Space Station are preparing for a fun delivery: a skincare serum from the cosmetics maker Estée Lauder, as well as a new and improved toilet.

Astronauts won’t actually be using the brand’s Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Multi-Recovery Complex, says Robyn Gatens, the acting director of the International Space Station. Instead, the plan is for them to take photos and video in space of the $105 per bottle serum that the company will then be able to use for advertisements across its social media channels. According to ABC News, it will cost Estée Lauder $17,500 per hour.

Estée Lauder will auction off at least one of the 10 bottles they’re flying into space for charity, Gatens said in an interview with NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday.

Even if the astronauts wanted to record themselves using the product — a la the Get Ready With Me videos that many an influencer has posted to YouTube to show off their beauty routines — they wouldn’t be able to. As government employees, they’re restricted from participating in sponsoring products.

That doesn’t mean they’re strangers to commercial and marketing activities — something NASA has set aside 90 hours of crew time for. In 2019, for example, DoubleTree by Hilton sent their chocolate chip cookies up to the Space Station to be the first food baked in space.

Gatens said NASA is hoping this kind of commercial activity will “open up business opportunities for companies that may never have thought about doing activities in space.”

Eventually, the International Space Station will have to be retired, and NASA hopes to use a prospective private space station in the future as a base in lower Earth orbit.

“We will be a customer, but we need other customers to be able to purchase services on those commercial platforms other than NASA to support their operation,” she said. “Through the Space Station today we’re enabling activities such as this to allow companies to try out performing commercial activities on the Space Station and see if there are businesses that can be enabled.”

One thing NASA won’t be returning, though, are two new toilets. Gatens said the toilets — which cost $23 million together — have special hardware designed to work in microgravity. One will be flown in the Orion spacecraft for the Artemis 2 mission, and the other is heading to the International Space Station.

“It’s very different from a toilet you would go buy at

Rocket problem prompts NASA and SpaceX to delay next launch of astronauts

“We have a strong working relationship with our SpaceX partner,” Kathy Lueders, associate administrator of NASA’s human exploration and operations mission directorate, said in the post. “With the high cadence of missions SpaceX performs, it really gives us incredible insight into this commercial system and helps us make informed decisions about the status of our missions. The teams are actively working this finding on the engines, and we should be a lot smarter within the coming week.”

SpaceX did not respond to a request for comment.

The mission, which had previously been scheduled for Oct. 31, would launch NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Shannon Walker, Victor Glover as well as Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi to the space station for a stay of about six months.

It would be SpaceX’s first operational mission of flying full crews for extended stays after it successfully completed a shorter test mission with two astronauts in August to verify the performance of the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft.

NASA and SpaceX said that test mission, from launch, to docking to splashdown, went flawlessly. But since then SpaceX said that it had redesigned a portion of the capsule’s heat shield after noticing what Hans Koeigsmann, SpaceX’s vice president of build and reliability, said was “a little more erosion than we wanted to see.” The erosion was in a few small areas where the crew capsule joins the spacecraft’s trunk, an unpressurized cargo hold that is discarded before the spacecraft slams into the atmosphere.

The friction between the thickening air and the speeding spacecraft generates temperatures as high as 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit and engulf the capsule in a fireball. The heat shield covers the bottom of the spacecraft and keeps the crew safe.

Speaking to reporters recently, Koenigsmann stressed that there “was nothing to be concerned with at all times. The astronauts were safe, and the vehicle was working perfectly.”

Earlier this month, SpaceX scrubbed a pair of launches late in the countdown, prompting Musk’s plans for “a broad review of launch site, propulsion, structures, avionics & regulatory constraints this weekend.” He added that he would make a trip to Cape Canaveral “to review hardware in person.”

A launch on Oct. 2 of a GPS satellite for the U.S. Space Force was scrubbed two seconds before liftoff after what Musk described as an “unexpected pressure rise in the turbomachinery gas generator,” which helps power the rocket’s Merlin engines.

A day earlier, SpaceX scrubbed a launch of its Starlink satellites with 18 seconds to go in the count because of a problem with a ground sensor. After scrubbing the Starlink mission, SpaceX bounced back and launched the batch of 60 satellites on Tuesday. Still, SpaceX’s goal is to launch much more frequently, and Musk said on Twitter recently that: “We will need to make a lot of improvements to have a chance of completing 48 launches next year!”

The GPS launch has not yet been rescheduled.

The company’s Falcon 9 rocket has flown more than 90 times, the