Expedition 42 commander Barry Wilmore of NASA (left), Alexander Samokutyaev of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and Elena Serova of Roscosmos, seen here at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, just weeks before their launch to the International Space Station, are scheduled to return to Earth March 11, 2015. Image Credit: NASA/Stephanie Stoll

Expedition 42 commander Barry Wilmore of NASA (left), Alexander Samokutyaev of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and Elena Serova of Roscosmos, seen here at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, just weeks before their launch to the International Space Station, are scheduled to return to Earth March 11, 2015. CLICK TO ZOOM
Image Credit: NASA/Stephanie Stoll

International Space Station (ISS) Expedition 42 Commander Barry Wilmore (USA), and Flight Engineers Alexander Samokutyaev (Russia) and Elena Serova (Russia) will be returning to Earth on Wednesday, March 11, 2015, in a Soyuz spacecraft. You can watch LIVE, in the NASA TV window below, the ISS change of command ceremony on March 10, and hatch closure, undocking, de-orbit, and landing in Kazakhstan on March 11, 2015. Also below is the March 4, 2015, full NASA Press Release on return to Earth, with NASA TV live coverage times (all Eastern Time).

This is a milestone event for SSEP Mission 6 to ISS. After the October 28, 2014, loss of the Orb-3 rocket and all original Mission 6 Yankee Clipper experiments, the Yankee Clipper II replacement experiments launched to Station on SpaceX-5 Dragon on January 10, 2015, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL, (watch liftoff), and departed Station and returned to Earth on the same vehicle on February 10. While aboard ISS, Station Commander Wilmore operated all 17 re-flight experiments on the 5 scheduled Crew Interaction Days (see Mission 6 Experiment Log). All Mission 6 student flight teams are now harvesting and analyzing both their ground and flight experiments.

It is now a SSEP tradition that whenever astronauts operating SSEP payloads return to Earth, we share what that must be like with the over 100 communities across the U.S. and Canada participating in this program. The video below captures the experience for astronauts departing ISS, possibly for the last time in their careers. It is David Bowie’s Space Oddity sung by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield. This is particularly poignant given one Mission 6 experiment was from School District 73 in Kamloops/Thompson, Britich Columbia, and three Canadian communities – University of Toronto Schools, Toronto, Ontario; Bishop Carroll High School, Calgary, Alberta; and Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario – started Mission 8 on February 23, 2015.

Right now there are 4 operational SSEP flight opportunities – 15 communities comprising Mission 5, and we hope to see many reporting at the National Conference at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC, in July; 18 Mission 6 communities in the middle of experiment analysis; 24 Mission 7 communities in the middle of flight safety review; and 14 communities just starting Mission 8. Mission 9 will be announced next week for a program start in mid-September 2015.


Space Oddity sung in orbit by Commander Chris Hadfield

Just before his return to Earth on Soyuz 33S, on May 13, 2013, Expedition 35 International Space Station Commander and Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield – the first Canadian to walk in space –released this video.

Teachers, we invite you to lower the lights in your classrooms, select ‘full screen’ on the video below, project it on a big screen, and let all your SSEP student researchers see that they are truly part of this adventure. Afterward, you might also consider having a class discussion about the emotional content of this song, who is singing it (here is Chris’ bio at the Canadian Space Agency), where he is singing it, and what it must feel like to leave Low Earth Orbit and return to Earth after an extended stay on Station.

Human exploration? It is a wondrously emotional endeavor, and we express that emotion in myriad ways – through art, through prose and poetry, through story-telling, and through music. And all this goes hand-in-hand with science, and more generally STEM – really. The human condition is an interdisciplinary tapestry – something to be celebrated in all our classrooms.

We shall not cease from Exploration.
And the end of all our exploring
will be to arrive where we started
and know the place for the first time.
-T.S. Eliot



WATCH LIVE ON THE NASA TV PORTAL BELOW: ISS Change of Command and Expedition 42 Return to Earth  – See NASA Press Release Below for Coverage Times (all times Eastern)


NASA Press Release (NCESSE note – all times Eastern)
March 4, 2015
NASA Television to Air Space Station Change of Commander, Return of Three Crew Members
Three International Space Station crew members are scheduled to leave the orbiting laboratory Wednesday, March 11 after almost six months in space performing scientific research and technology demonstrations.

NASA Television will provide complete coverage of their departure and return to Earth, beginning with the space station change of command ceremony on Tuesday, March 10.

Expedition 42 Commander Barry Wilmore of NASA will hand over command of the station to fellow NASA astronaut Terry Virts. At 6:44 p.m. Tuesday, Wilmore and flight engineers Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) will undock their Soyuz spacecraft from the space station and land in Kazakhstan at 10:08 p.m. (8:08 a.m. March 12 Kazakh time).

NASA Television coverage is as follows:

Tuesday, March 10

10:25 a.m. — Change of command ceremony in which Wilmore hands over station command to Virts

Wednesday, March 11

3 p.m. — Farewell and hatch closure coverage (hatch closure scheduled at 3:25 p.m.)
6:15 p.m. — Undocking coverage (undocking scheduled at 6:44 p.m.)
9 p.m. — Deorbit burn and landing coverage (deorbit burn scheduled at 9:16 p.m., with landing at 10:08 p.m.)

Thursday, March 12

12 a.m. — Video File of hatch closure, undocking and landing activities
10:30 a.m. — Video File of landing and post-landing activities and post-landing interview with Wilmore in Kazakhstan

Their return will complete 167 days in space since launching from Kazakhstan on Sept. 26, on a mission covering almost 71 million miles. Wilmore will have logged 178 days in space on two flights, the first of which was on space shuttle mission STS-129 in 2009. Samokutyaev will have spent 331 days in space on two flights, the first of which was on Expedition 27/28 in 2011. This was Serova’s first flight into space.

At the time of undocking, Expedition 43 officially will begin aboard the station under Virts’ command. Along with his crewmates Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos and Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA (European Space Agency), the three-person crew will operate the station for two weeks until the arrival of three new crew members.

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Gennady Padalka, are scheduled to launch from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, March 27 U.S. time (March 28 Kazakh time). Kelly and Kornienko will spend a year aboard the complex collecting valuable biomedical data that will inform future deep space, long-duration missions.

For the NASA TV schedule and coordinate information, visit:


For b-roll and other media resources, visit:


For more information about the International Space Station, visit:




The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) is a program of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) in the U.S., and the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education internationally. It is enabled through a strategic partnership with NanoRacks LLC, working with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory. SSEP is the first pre-college STEM education program that is both a U.S. national initiative and implemented as an on-orbit commercial space venture.

The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), and Subaru of America, Inc., are U.S. National Partners on the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program. Magellan Aerospace is a Canadian National Partner on the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program.

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