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Watch live tonight: 3 space station astronauts return to Earth

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and Russian cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov will return to Earth from the International Space Station in their Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft today (April 16), and you can watch it live online. 

NASA will provide live coverage of the astronauts' departure beginning with the crew farewells, at 5:45 p.m. EDT (2145 GMT). The crew will board the Soyuz at 6:10 p.m. EDT (2210 GMT), and they will undock from the space station at 9:34 p.m. EDT (0134 April 17 GMT). They are scheduled to land near Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, about three and a half hours later, on April 17 at 12:57 a.m. EDT (0457 GMT)

You can watch all the action live in the window above, courtesy of NASA TV, or directly via the agency's website.

Full story: You can watch a NASA astronaut and 2 cosmonauts return to Earth in a Soyuz capsule tonight

Expedition 64 Flight Engineers Kate Rubins of NASA and Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of Roscosmos, seen here inside the International Space Station's Japanese Kibo laboratory, are scheduled to depart the outpost on April 16, 2021. (Image credit: NASA)

From NASA:

Expedition 64 Flight Engineer Kate Rubins of NASA and two Roscosmos cosmonauts are scheduled to end their mission on the International Space Station Friday, April 16. Coverage of departure from the station and landing on Earth will air live on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

Rubins, along with Russian cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, will close the hatch to the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft at 6:10 p.m. EDT to begin the journey back to Earth. The trio will undock from the space-facing port of the station’s Poisk module at 9:34 p.m., heading for a parachute-assisted landing at 12:56 a.m. (10:56 a.m. Kazakhstan time) Saturday, April 17, on the steppe of Kazakhstan, southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan.

The three crew members will wrap up a 185-day mission spanning 2,960 orbits of Earth and 78.4 million miles. Rubins is completing her second flight, with 300 cumulative days in space. Ryzhikov is completing his second spaceflight, with 358 cumulative days. This was Kud-Sverchkov’s first spaceflight.

In advance of Soyuz departure coverage, station commander Ryzhikov will hand over command of the station to NASA astronaut Shannon Walker during a change of command ceremony. The event will air live on NASA TV, the NASA app, and the agency’s website beginning at 3:45 p.m. Thursday, April 15.

On Friday, April 16, coverage of the farewells and hatch closure for the departing crew members will begin at 5:45 p.m., followed by undocking coverage at 9:15 p.m., with coverage of the Soyuz deorbit burn and landing beginning at 11:30 p.m.

At the time of undocking, Expedition 65 will formally begin aboard the station, with new station commander Walker, NASA astronauts Victor GloverMichael Hopkins, and Mark Vande Hei, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi, and cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov.

Later this month, NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 members – NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, JAXA astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet – will join the Expedition 65 members aboard the station.

After landing, the Soyuz MS-17 crew will split up, with Rubins returning to her home in Houston, while the cosmonauts fly back to their training base in Star City, Russia.

Watch live Saturday: Virtual event with SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts

The four astronauts that will launch on SpaceX's Crew-2 mission to the International Space Station next week will take questions from the media during a live event at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida Saturday (April 17). You can watch it live in the window above, courtesy of NASA TV, beginning at 9:45 a.m. EDT (1345 GMT).

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Crew Dragon Endeavour on Thursday, April 22 to ferry four astronauts to the International Space Station. Liftoff is at 6:11 a.m. EDT (1011 GMT). The mission will be SpaceX's third crewed flight for NASA and the second operational flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft. 

Called Crew-2, SpaceX's Crew Dragon launch will carry NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough, Megan McArthur, Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet on a six-month mission to the space station.

Related: SpaceX's Crew-2 astronaut mission for NASA: Live updates

From NASA:

NASA will provide coverage of the upcoming prelaunch and launch activities for the agency’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission with astronauts to the International Space Station. This is the second crew rotation flight of the SpaceX Crew Dragon and the first with two international partners. The flight follows certification by NASA for regular flights to the space station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

The launch, on a Falcon 9 rocket, is targeted for 6:11 a.m. EDT Thursday, April 22, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Crew Dragon is scheduled to dock to the space station about 5:30 a.m. Friday, April. 23. Prelaunch activities, launch, and docking will air live on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

The Crew-2 flight will carry NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur – who will serve as the mission’s spacecraft commander and pilot, respectively – along with JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency)  astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet, who will serve as mission specialists to the space station for a six-month science mission.

All media participation in the following news conferences will be remote except where specifically listed below, and only a limited number of media will be accommodated at Kennedy due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Please note that the Kennedy Press Site facilities will remain closed throughout these events for the protection of Kennedy employees and journalists, except for a limited number of media who will receive confirmation in writing in the coming days.

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission coverage is as follows (all times Eastern):

Saturday, April 17

9:45 a.m. – Virtual Crew Media Engagement at Kennedy with Crew-2 astronauts:

  • NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough, spacecraft commander
  • NASA astronaut Megan McArthur, pilot
  • JAXA astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, mission specialist
  • ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet, mission specialist

Monday, April 19

1 p.m. – Science Media Teleconference to discuss investigations Crew-2 will support during their mission

  • David Brady, associate program scientist for the International Space Station Program at Johnson will discuss how the Commercial Crew Program is boosting research aboard the orbiting laboratory. 
  • ISS U.S. National Laboratory Senior Program Director Dr. Liz Warren will discuss Tissue Engineering, which uses a combination of cells, engineering, and materials to restore, maintain, improve, or replace biological tissues. Scientists will leverage microgravity, which allows cells to grow without scaffolding and in ways that mimic tissues in the human body.
  • Dr. Lucie Low from the National Institutes of Health will discuss Tissue Chips, complex bioengineered 3D models that mimic the structure and function of human organ systems. Scientists use tissue chips to test the potential effects of drugs on those tissues and to study diseases.
  • ISS Program Scientist for Earth Observations Dr. William Stefanov will discuss Crew Earth Observations. Astronauts have taken more than 3.5 million images of Earth from the space station, contributing to one of the longest-running records of how Earth has changed over time.
  • NASA Project Manager for ISS Power Augmentation Bryan Griffith and Boeing’s director for the ISS Structural and Mechanical Development Project Rick Golden will discuss the ISS Roll-out Solar Array compact solar panels that roll open like a yoga mat. In 2017, the basic design underwent testing on the space station to determine its strength and durability, and NASA will deliver the first two of six new arrays that will be delivered this summer to augment the station’s power.

Tuesday, April 20

TBD – Prelaunch News Conference at Kennedy (no earlier than one hour after completion of the Launch Readiness Review) with the following participants:

  • Steve Stich, manager, Commercial Crew Program, Kennedy
  • Joel Montalbano, manager, International Space Station, Johnson
  • Kirt Costello, chief scientist, International Space Station Program, Johnson
  • Norm Knight, deputy manager, Flight Operations Directorate, Johnson
  • Benji Reed, senior director, Human Spaceflight Programs, SpaceX
  • Junichi Sakai, manager, International Space Station Program, JAXA
  • Frank de Winne, manager, International Space Station Program, ESA
  • Brian Cizek, launch weather officer, U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron

Wednesday, April 21

10 a.m. – Administrator Countdown Clock Briefing with the following participants (limited, previously confirmed in-person media only):

  • Steve Jurczyk, acting NASA administrator
  • Bob Cabana, Kennedy center director
  • Hiroshi Sasaki, vice president and director general, JAXA’s Human Spaceflight Technology Directorate
  • Frank de Winne, manager, International Space Station Program, ESA
  • NASA astronaut
  • NASA astronaut

No teleconference option is available for this event.

Thursday, April 22

2 a.m. – NASA Television launch coverage begins. NASA Television will have continuous coverage, including docking, hatch opening, and welcome ceremony.

7:30 a.m. (approximately) – Postlaunch news conference with the following participants:

  • Steve Jurczyk, acting NASA administrator
  • Kathy Lueders, associate administrator, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters
  • Hiroshi Sasaki, vice president and director general, JAXA’s Human Spaceflight Technology Directorate
  • Frank de Winne, manager, International Space Station Program, ESA
  • SpaceX representative

Friday, April 23

5:30 a.m. – Docking

7:35 a.m. – Hatch Opening

8:05 a.m. – Welcome Ceremony from the International Space Station with the following participants:

  • Kathy Lueders, associate administrator, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters
  • Hiroshi Yamakawa, president, JAXA
  • Josef Aschbacher, director general, ESA

NASA TV Launch Coverage

NASA TV live coverage will begin at 2 a.m. For NASA TV downlink information, schedules, and links to streaming video, visit:

'ISS Live!' Tune in to the space station

Find out what the astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station are up to by tuning in to the "ISS Live" broadcast. Hear conversations between the crew and mission controllers on Earth and watch them work inside the U.S. segment of the orbiting laboratory. When the crew is off duty, you can enjoy live views of Earth from Space. You can watch and listen in the window below, courtesy of NASA.

From NASA:

"Live video from the International Space Station includes internal views when the crew is on-duty and Earth views at other times. The video is accompanied by audio of conversations between the crew and Mission Control. This video is only available when the space station is in contact with the ground. During 'loss of signal' periods, viewers will see a blue screen.

"Since the station orbits the Earth once every 90 minutes, it experiences a sunrise or a sunset about every 45 minutes. When the station is in darkness, external camera video may appear black, but can sometimes provide spectacular views of lightning or city lights below." 

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  • The Exoplanets Channel
    It will be exciting!
  • rod
    The Exoplanets Channel said:
    It will be exciting!

    It could also be more issues for stargazing too :)
  • Postman1
    rod said:
    It could also be more issues for stargazing too :)
    All the more reason to build telescopes on the far side of the Moon.
  • whatdoctor
    I have been watching space launches since 1969 and I still find them exciting.
  • Moondaya
    for sure

    Each progress about space was and will be exciting! I wish to see days when base set up on the moon.
  • jimmiy
  • Castacon79
    New here so I can get the world to see if they can do something
  • Erik
    rod said:
    It could also be more issues for stargazing too :)
    adapt, exceed....or die... When/if teleportation appears will anyone have any concern for travel agents, common carriers or taxi/uber drivers?
  • Dan41273
    I don't want to burst any bubbles, but the water is from earth shedding the vapor into space, and some of it collects on the moon, and throughout space......
  • Hughjer
    Annnnnd... aborted again. Maybe tomorrow folks.