Space Station Astronauts Land Tonight — Here’s How To Watch Live

UPDATE: The Expedition 38 crew landed safely at about 11:24 p.m. EDT (3:24 a.m. UTC) on March 11. You can catch the highlights of the crew extraction at this NASA video.

They fixed a broken space station and participated in a space Olympic torch relay. And now that they’ve spent their allotted six months in space, it’s time for Expedition 38 to come home.

The action starts today around 4:30 p.m. EDT (8:30 p.m. UTC) with the hatch closure ceremony, which you can watch in the video, with landing expected at 11:24 p.m. EDT (3:24 a.m. UTC). We have full details of the schedule below the jump.

Expedition 38’s landing crew includes Russian astronauts Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy, and NASA astronaut Michael Hopkins. Kotov was the one in charge of the station while four spacewalks and hundreds of experiments took place, not to mention visits from three vehicles. This past weekend, he passed the baton to Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, making Wakata the first person from his country to assume control of station.

Farewells and hatch closure will start around 4:30 p.m. EDT (8:30 p.m. UTC) on NASA Television, with undocking occurring at 8:02 p.m. EDT (12:02 a.m. UTC.) As usual, the crew will be in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft for the landing, making their way back to an area near Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan. The deorbit burn will take place around 10:30 p.m. EDT (2:30 a.m. UTC), and landing at 11:24 p.m. EDT (3:24 a.m. UTC).

We recommend you tune into NASA TV slightly before each of these events, and to expect that the timing might be variable as mission events warrant. NASA’s full schedule (in central time) is at the bottom of this story.

Screenshot from NASA TV of the Soyuz TMA-09M spacecraft arriving at the International Space Station.
Screenshot from NASA TV of the Soyuz TMA-09M spacecraft arriving at the International Space Station.

expedition 38 landing

UPDATE: Six-Hour Spacewalk Yields Success for UrtheCast Cameras

UPDATE: As of Tuesday morning (Eastern time), UrtheCast announced that telemetry was successfully received, “contrary to the online broadcast of the installation.” CEO Scott Larson added that his company “can now focus on the routine commissioning of the cameras in preparation for the unveiling of our Ultra HD, color video of Earth.” Below is the report from Monday.

A second crack at installing the UrtheCast cameras on the International Space Station also ran into data trouble, according to a press release from NASA, although the company involved with the cameras says it is still waiting for more information about the telemetry.

Expedition 38 spacewalkers Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy were again trying to put the cameras outside the station for UrtheCast to provide live views of Earth to subscribers. The cosmonauts’ first attempt on Dec. 27 showed telemetry problems, at which point the spacewalkers were instructed to bring the cameras back inside.

“The duo translated to the Zvezda service module and installed a high-resolution camera and a medium-resolution camera to capture Earth imagery. However, the medium resolution camera again experienced telemetry issues,” NASA stated.

On Twitter, however, UrtheCast stated that it is still awaiting confirmation on the status of the telemetry. We’ll keep you posted when they issue an update.

Kotov and Ryazanskiy spent six hours, eight minutes outside performing this and other routine tasks, marking the fourth spacewalk in about a month for Expedition 38. Besides the other Russian spacewalk in late December, two American astronauts ventured out close to Christmas to make a contingency swap on a faulty ammonia pump.

Watch Live As Russian Spacewalkers Try To Install Urthecast Cameras Again

Think of this as Camera Install, Take 2. Russian spacewalkers are going to take another crack at installing the high-definition Urthecast cameras after a glitch prevented them from working properly during an attempt in December.

“The expedition crew members performed troubleshooting on several cable connectors and now believes the problem has been solved,” NASA wrote in an update on Friday (Jan. 24).

Russian Expedition 38 cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy are expected to head outside at 9:10 a.m. EST (2:10 p.m. UTC) today (Monday) to make the second attempt. The cameras will be installed on the International Space Station’s Zvezda service module and provide real-time views of the Earth to subscribers. The cosmonauts will also pick up an experiment package on the hull of the module.

Check out NASA TV coverage of the events above starting at 8:30 a.m. EST (1:30 p.m. UTC).

Watch Spacewalkers Friday As They Install Earth Livestream Camera On Station

For all you Earth observation geeks out there, we have some good news — two Russian astronauts are going to install a camera on Friday (Dec. 27) that will beam live images of Earth back to your browser.

The UrtheCast camera is the headline task for Expedition 38 astronauts Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy to perform, on top of installing a foot restraint and doing some equipment swapouts. This spacewalk, by the way, is not related in any way to the two successful contingency ones earlier this week to replace a faulty pump on station.

The spacewalk is supposed to start at 8 a.m. EST (1 p.m. UTC) and will be carried live on NASA Television, which you can view in the media player above or at this alternate link. The spacewalk is scheduled for seven hours, but could be longer or shorter as events arise.

“Imagine you have a nearly live Google Earth, but it isn’t four-year-old data – you have data that is being refreshed all the time, with videos coming down over interesting areas where interesting events are going on, showing you what is changing, what is going on,” said George Tyc, the chief technology officer at UrtheCast, in an interview with Universe Today earlier this year.

“What we really hope to pull off is to change the paradigm, get the everyday person interacting and seeing the data coming down from space to see the Earth and how it is evolving over time in a way that isn’t available right now.”

Read more details about UrtheCast in this past Universe Today story.

NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins during his first spacewalk on Dec. 21, 2013 during Expedition 38. He tweeted the next day: "Wow . . .  can't believe that is me yesterday. Wish I could find the words to describe the experience, truly amazing." Credit: NASA
NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins during his first spacewalk on Dec. 21, 2013 during Expedition 38. He tweeted the next day: “Wow . . . can’t believe that is me yesterday. Wish I could find the words to describe the experience, truly amazing.” Credit: NASA

It’s been a busy week for spacewalkers on station as Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins successfully replaced a pump that shut down two weeks ago and crippled one of the station’s two cooling loops for regulating the temperature of systems on station. With that work completed Tuesday (Dec. 24), a NASA update today (Dec. 26) said systems are slowly coming back online.

“Early on Christmas Day, the heat exchangers for the Destiny laboratory, the Harmony and Tranquility nodes and the Japanese Kibo laboratory were reintegrated to enable experiments racks and other systems affected by the partial Cooling Loop A shutdown Dec. 11 to come back on line,” NASA stated.

“The Columbus laboratory heat exchanger will remain down until the European Space Agency, at its own request, conducts that module’s integration next week when personnel return from the holiday.”

Expedition 37/38’s Tips For Surviving Long Voyages in Space

NASA wants to bring its astronauts outside of Earth. It recently recruited a new astronaut class for deep space voyages. It’s talking about picking up asteroids and possibly heading to the moon or Mars in the distant future. But there are a heck of a lot of steps to do before anyone can head into space for long periods of time.

The agency and Roscosmos are preparing for a one-year voyage to the International Space Station in 2015 that will add to the limited set of data on people being in space consecutively for a year, or longer. You can bet there will be reams of information collected on sleep habits, bone loss, muscle shrinkage, eye pressure and other health factors of concern.

How about the psychological side? The next space station crew to launch gave some hints about how their training prepares them to live cheek-by-jowl in a tiny space for six months.

The mission’s main goal:

The main goal is to put the station in a good condition, and also for the Russian segment, to [install] the new module, MLM (Multipurpose Laboratory Module.) We’re all targeted to this job. Me especially, being the commander of the station, I have the responsibility of the whole crew and their success and also for their psych [psychological] atmosphere. That’s really what I want to do. — Oleg Kotov, Expedition 37 flight engineer, Expedition 38 commander and preparing for his third spaceflight

Receiving advice from past crews:

Sometimes it’s the little things in terms of how to deal with, for example … the food and your clothes and supplies. Other times it’s trying to make sure you’re focusing on the critical items, and not necessarily getting caught up in all the little details [because] you’re going to be there for such a long amount of time.  — Michael Hopkins, Expedition 37/38 flight engineer and rookie astronaut

The Mars 500 long-duration mission vs. flying to the space station:

Mars 500 was really aimed at science. Most of the station [work] is mostly of the safety of the crew and the safety of the station, and then the [next priority is] science. But it also was a great experience to see, psychologically, the space station can be isolating, and how great the influence of this psychology is on the crew. So that was really the experience. Being commander there helps me a lot in my training for real flight.” — Sergey Ryzansky, commander of a 105-day segment as part of phase two of the Mars 500 program, Expedition 37/38 flight engineer and rookie cosmonaut

Michael Hopkins, Expedition 37/38 flight engineer, during spacewalk training. Credit: NASA
Michael Hopkins, Expedition 37/38 flight engineer, during spacewalk training. Credit: NASA

Communications with Mission Control:

Sometimes you ask a question or an item from the ground, and just realizing that you’re not always going to get that answer right away. Sometimes it takes some time for them to determine what the right answer is. — Hopkins

The challenge for other planets:

[I study] how to develop countermeasure means for flights on another planets. After 200 days, for example, flying in space, then we need human beings to work in a spacesuit on the surface of other planets, in different gravity. — Ryzansky

Space Station Twitter Crew Returns Home

The Expedition 23 crew from the International Space Station landed safely in their Soyuz-17 spacecraft, concluding their five-and-a-half-month stay in space. Commander Oleg Kotov and Flight Engineers T.J. Creamer and Soichi Noguchi were welcomed by sunshine on Wednesday morning in Kazakhstan (11:25 pm EDT Tuesday). This crew may well be remembered as the ‘Twitter Crew’: Creamer posted the first “live” Tweet from space on Twitter from the now functioning internet on the ISS, which he helped to get up and running. Noguchi’s use of Twitter to post hundreds of images from space documented and shared his experiences in space like no previous astronaut, as he garnered over 250,000 Twitter “followers,” and his images were featured on many blogs and news sites.
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