Began Oct. 30, 2016; transitioned to Expedition 51 on April 10, 2017
Transferred from Expedition 49
Shane Kimbrough, NASA
Sergey Ryzhikov, Roscosmos
| Flight Engineer
Andrei Borisenko, Roscosmos
| Flight Engineer
Launched: Oct. 19, 2016, aboard Soyuz MS-02
Landed: April 10, 2017
Docked Nov. 19, 2016
Peggy Whitson*, NASA
| Flight Engineer
Oleg Novitskiy, Roscosmos
| Flight Engineer
Thomas Pesquet, ESA
| Flight Engineer
Launched: Nov. 17, 2016, aboard Soyuz MS-03
Landed: June 2, 2017
* Whitson was given a three-month extension mid-flight. She flew into space Nov. 17, 2016, aboard Soyuz MS-03 and landed with the Soyuz MS-04 crew on Sept. 3, 2017.
— Statistics —
Max. crew size: 6
Started: Oct. 30, 2016
Ended: April 10, 2018
Duration: 163 days
Orbits of Earth: ~1,125
Launch site: Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan
Spacecraft: Soyuz-MS-02, Soyuz MS-03
Experiments conducted: ~200
Total spacewalk time: 26 hours, 8 minutes
Visiting vehicle arrivals: 3
Visiting vehicle departures: 4
— Mission Summary —
NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Peggy Whitson; Russian cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov, Andrei Borisenko and Oleg Novitskiy; and European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet worked on about 200 experiments including a study on how lighting can change the health and well-being of station crew members, experiments on the effect of microgravity on the genetic properties of space-grown plants and how zero-g can impact tissue regeneration in humans. Four spacewalks were performed and many visiting vehicles came and went over 5.5 months.
— Major Events —
Soyuz MS-01 departs, Expedition 50 begins
Soyuz MS-03 arrival
OA-5 Cygnus departs
Progress MS-04 lost during launch
Kounotori 6 arrival
Spacewalks to replace station batteries
Kounotori 6 departure
Progress MS-03 leaves ISS
Progress MS-05 arrival
CRS-10 Dragon mission
2 spacewalks, 1 PMA relocation
Peggy Whitson's ISS stay gets 3-month extension
Soyuz MS-02 departs, Expedition 50 ends
— News —
NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson’s stay aboard the International Space Station has been extended by three months through Expedition 52, adding to her already record-breaking mission.
Instead of returning to Earth in June 2017 with the Soyuz MS-03 capsule she launched in along side Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky and European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet, 57-year-old Whitson will remain aboard the ISS and fly home in September 2017 with the crew of Soyuz MS-04, which will have a vacant seat.
An astronaut duo stepped outside the International Space Station in the second spacewalk in less than a week. Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough and Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson ventured outside on a 7-hour long spacewalk to outfit a recently relocated docking module to ready it for commercial crew spacecraft sometime in 2018.
Ground-based robotics teams remotely commanded the International Space Station’s robotic Canadarm2 to move the Space Shuttle-era Pressurized Mating Adapter 3 to the forward end of the outpost. The March 26, 2017, relocation was part of a multi-year effort to prepare the ISS for future commercial crew spacecraft.
Two International Space Station astronauts ventured outside the outpost on the first of three planned spacewalks to prepare for the arrival of a second docking adapter for the Commercial Crew Program. The 6.5-hour long spacewalk began at 7:24 a.m. EDT (11:24 GMT) March 24, 2017.
The 10th SpaceX Dragon spacecraft to visit the International Space Station left the outpost on March 19, 2017, and fell back to Earth. The capsule splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 7:46 a.m. PDT (14:46 GMT) and was recovered off the coast of Baja California.
On Feb. 24, 2017, the uncrewed Russian Progress MS-05 resupply spacecraft docked with the International Space Station. The automated link-up with the Pirs docking compartment took place at 3:30 a.m. EST (08:30 GMT) while flying over the south Pacific Ocean.
The Progress docking probe then retracted to pull the cargo ship in closer to allow for the hooks between the two spacecraft to latch. That hard mate took place at 3:36 a.m. EST (08:36 GMT).
Twenty-four hours after an aborted rendezvous attempt, SpaceX’s CRS-10 Dragon capsule was captured by the International Space Station’s robotic arm. This second approach to the outpost went by the book.
Capture took place at 5:44 a.m. EST (10:44 GMT) Feb. 23, 2017, while the orbiting laboratory was flying 402 kilometers over the west coast of Australia.
SpaceX’s CRS-10 Dragon capsule will try again tomorrow as its planed Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017, rendezvous and berthing attempt with the International Space Station was called off. An onboard computer triggered the abort when it saw an incorrect value in the data about the location of the outpost.
The abort occurred at 3:25 a.m. EST (08:25 GMT) while the spacecraft was 1,200 meters below the ISS.
Lifting off under clear, blue skies in Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the Soyuz-U rocket completed its final launch by sending the Russian Progress MS-05 cargo spacecraft toward the International Space Station.
Liftoff took place at 12:58 a.m. EST (05:58 GMT) Feb. 22, 2017, from launch site 1/5, also known as Gagarin’s Start, the same launch pad that sent the first human, Yuri Gagarin, into space.
Japan’s sixth Kounotori spacecraft, also called the H-II Transfer Vehicle or HTV, re-entered Earth’s atmosphere Feb. 5, 2017, after spending nearly two months in space to resupply the International Space Station and test new technologies.
Re-entry, confirmed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, occurred at 10:06 a.m. EST (15:06 GMT) over the Pacific Ocean. It came just over a week after the spacecraft departed the ISS after spending six weeks attached to the outpost.
With the undocking of a Russian Progress cargo ship from the International Space Station, only two spacecraft remain at the outpost – a rarity in an era of high visiting vehicle traffic.
Progress MS-03 undocked at 9:25 a.m. EST (14:25 GMT) Jan. 31, 2017, from the Pirs docking compartment on the Earth-facing side of the ISS after spending six months there.
After six weeks attached to the International Space Station, Japan’s Kounotori 6 spacecraft was unberthed and commanded to leave the vicinity of the outpost. It will now spend a week conducting a few stand-alone experiments for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.
A few hours after ground teams commanded the 17.5-meter long robotic Canadarm2 to move the spacecraft, also called the H-II Transfer Vehicle 6, from the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module to about 10 meters below the Destiny laboratory to release it.
In the second of two planned to spacewalks up upgrade the International Space Station’s power system, two astronauts finished the process of replacing 12 nickel-hydrogen batteries with new lithium-ion units. The spacewalking duo worked so fast, they had time to complete all of the assigned get-ahead tasks.
The International Space Station crew is gearing up for the second of two spacewalks aimed at replacing aging nickel-hydrogen batteries with new lithium-ion units. Two astronauts will leave the Quest airlock at around 7 a.m. EST (12:00 GMT) Jan. 13, 2017, for an estimated six-and-a-half-hour-long excursion.
Two NASA astronauts on the first of two spacewalks outside the International Space Station made swift work to help with the replacement of old batteries with new lithium-ion units. They even had enough time left over to perform several get-ahead tasks.
Extravehicular Activity 38 began at 7:23 a.m. EST (12:23 GMT) Jan. 6, 2017. It was performed by NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Peggy Whitson. The goal was to install three adapter plates next to three lithium-ion batteries that were installed robotically late last week.
On Friday, NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Peggy Whitson will venture outside the 400-metric-ton International Space Station on the first of two spacewalks to begin a multi-year process of upgrading the outpost’s power system.
The spacewalk, Extravehicular Activity 38, will see the two Expedition 50 astronauts install battery adapter plates and help with the swap-out of old nickel-hydrogen batteries with new lighter and more efficient lithium ion units.
Between cargo ships servicing the outpost and spacewalks to maintain it, 2016 was arguably one of the busiest years for the International Space Station since the end of the space shuttle era.
Probably the most visible event for the space station in 2016 was the yearlong crew – NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko – returning to Earth. They had launched to the outpost on March 27, 2015.
With the Japanese Kounotori 6 cargo craft firmly attached to the International Space Station's Harmony module, the six-person Expedition 50 crew is heading into the holiday weekend with images of spacewalk preparations dancing in their heads.
U.S. Extravehicular Activity 38 will occur Jan 6 and EVA-39 Jan 13. Flight Engineers Peggy Whitson and Thomas Pesquet will be the astronaut duo performing the spacewalk. The goal of the two EVAs is to replace 12 old nickel-hydrogen batteries with six new lithium-ion batteries on the station's Integrated Truss Assembly.
Japan’s sixth “white stork” arrived at the International Space Station to deliver supplies, experiments, and Christmas gifts for the crew. The Kounotori 6 cargo ship, also called HTV-6, was captured by the outpost’s robotic Canadarm2 at 5:37 a.m. EST (10:37 GMT) Dec. 13, 2016.
Almost three-and-a-half hours later, at 8:57 a.m. EST (13:57 GMT), the cargo ship was berthed to the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module at the forward end of the station.
About 383 seconds into a launch that started with a flawless liftoff, Roscosmos lost contact with the Soyuz-U rocket carrying the unpiloted Progress MS-04 cargo spacecraft bound for the International Space Station.
A few hours later, the Russian space agency reported the third stage of the carrier rocket shut down early, preventing the Progress from achieving orbit. The vehicle burned up in the atmosphere on the way back toward Earth.
Thanksgiving is just a normal day on the International Space Station; however, the two NASA astronauts will share the tradition of the American holiday with the rest of the crew during their evening meal time.
Of the six members of the Expedition 50 crew, three countries are represented: the United States, Russia, and France. Only the U.S. celebrates Thanksgiving; however, as an international crew, they celebrate each other’s holidays.
After spending a month attached to the International Space Station, Orbital ATK’s OA-5 Cygnus was detached and released by the robotic Canadarm2 in the morning hours of Nov. 21.
The S.S. Alan Poindexter, as the cargo ship is named, was unberthed from the Earth-facing port of the Unity module and moved to about 10 meters below the outpost. A couple hours later, at 8:22 a.m. EST (13:22 GMT), astronaut Shane Kimbrough commanded Canadarm2 to release the craft.
After spending two days catching up to the International Space Station, the crew of Soyuz MS-03 docked their spacecraft with the orbiting complex at 4:58 p.m. EST (21:58 GMT) Nov. 19.
The trio – NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy, and European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet – docked with the Rassvet module of the ISS. They joined the ongoing Expedition 50 crew, which includes NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough (current commander of the laboratory) and Russian cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrei Borisenko.
On a clear and cold Kazakh morning, three space flyers launched atop a Soyuz rocket in their Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft on a two-day flight bound for the International Space Station. The trio will spend about six months in space.
Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy, European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet, and NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson launched to space at 2:20 a.m. local Kazakh time Nov. 18 (3:20 p.m. EST / 20:20 GMT Nov. 17) from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Earlier this year, Roscosmos announced it would be reducing its crew on each International Space Station expedition from three to two. This means only five people will participate in each expedition as opposed to the normal six. As such, NASA has updated the 2017 crew assignments for the outpost.
Three space-flyers boarded their Soyuz spacecraft, undocked, deorbited and landed back on Earth early Monday morning local Kazakh time.
Soyuz MS-01 landed on the Step of Kazakhstan at 9:58 a.m. Oct. 30 (03:58 GMT / 11:58 p.m. EDT Oct. 29). Returning to Earth after 115 days in space were Russian cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin, Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi and NASA astronaut Kate Rubins.
With the Oct. 21 docking of Soyuz MS-02 to the International Space Station's Poisk module, the crew size for the football field-sized orbiting outpost returned to six, albeit for only about two weeks.
Launched Oct. 19 from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, three members of Expedition 49 took a 34-orbit route to catch up with the ISS and test new equipment on the upgraded Soyuz-MS variant.
After six months docked to the aft port of the Zvezda module of the International Space Station, the unpiloted Russian Progress MS-02 cargo ship left the outpost. A couple hours later, it was commanded to burn up over the Pacific Ocean.
Undocking occurred at 5:37 a.m. EDT (09:37 GMT) Oct. 14. Loaded springs initially pushed Progress away from ISS. The two passively separated for about 3 minutes. Once the craft was about 20 meters away from the orbiting outpost, a departure burn was initiated to increase the distance from ISS ahead of the deorbit burn.