Expedition 54 Highlights and Spacewalks

Since their start aboard the International Space Station (ISS), Expedition 54 has given us many amazing pictures, performed successful spacewalks and completed much research and studies in bacteria, manufactured fiber optics in microgravity, measured the total amount of sunlight Earth receives, gathered data on space debris in low-Earth orbit, and studied self-replicating materials. Let’s take a look at the highlights of Expedition 54.

The six-member Expedition 54 crew poses for a lighthearted crew portrait inside the Japanese Kibo laboratory module on Feb. 18, 2018. Clockwise from the bottom are: Commander Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos; NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba; Roscosmos cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov; Astronaut Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA); NASA astronaut Scott Tingle.

The Mission Patch

The patch consists of the ISS in gold flying into the sunrise, representing the station’s contributions to a bright future.
The sunrise represents the cohesiveness of the crew’s nations; blue, white and red, are the combined national colors of Japan, Russia, and the United States. the gold border with the crew’s names represents the constant human presence in space, and the number 54 is drawn as a path leading to Mars. Finally, the four stars represent the four values of leadership, trust, teamwork and excellence in mission control teams and space programs throughout history.

The Start of Expedition 54

Expedition 54 started when the last Expedition 53 crewmembers left the International Space Station and landed safely back on Earth on December 14, 2017. Operations aboard the ISS continued under the command of Alexander Misurkin or Roscomos, with crewmates, Mark VandeHei and Joe Acaba of NASA.

On December 17, 2017, new crewmembers launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on a two-day trip around Earth before docking on December 19, 2a017. Astronaut Scott Tingle of NASA, Anton Shkaplerov of Roscomos and Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) joined the Expedition 54 crew aboard the ISS. Expedition 53/54 is Mark Vande Hei’s first spaceflight. Expedition 54/55 is Scott Tingle and Norishige Kanai’s first spaceflight.

During their stay, Expedition 54 crewmembers watched Star Wars: The Last Jedi on Dec. 23, 2017.

They received many cargo vehicles with food and experiments and then released them either with trash or science experiments and findings. Trash cargo was deorbited and burnt during their reentry into Earth. Science cargo, like studies and investigations performed by the astronauts, splashed down and recovery forces retrieved them.


On January 23, 2018, Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei and Scott Tingle of NASA completed the first spacewalk of 2018. The Spacewalk lasted 7 hours, 24 minutes. The two astronauts replaced a Latching End Effector (LEE) on the station’s robotic arm, Canadarm2. The spacewalk was the third in Vande Hei’s career and the first for Tingle.

astronaut Mark Vande Hei during a spacewalk

NASA astronaut Scott Tingle is pictured during a spacewalk to swap out a degraded robotic hand, or Latching End Effector, on the Canadarm2. NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei also participated in the robotics maintenance spacewalk.

On February 2, Commander Alexander Misurkin and Flight Engineer Anton Shkaplerov completed a spacewalk lasting 8 hours and 13 minutes setting a record of the longest Russian spacewalk. It was the 207th spacewalk in support of the ISS assembly and maintenance

On February 16, Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei of NASA and Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency completed the third and last spacewalk lasting 5 hours and 57 minutes. Running ahead of the timeline, the two spacewalkers conducted a number of get-ahead tasks. This spacewalk is now the 208th spacewalk in support of the ISS assembly and maintenance.

On February 26 the Change of Command Ceremony began at 2:40 pm. Misurkin handed over station control to cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov. Misurkin lead fellow crewmembers Joe Acaba and Mark Vande Hei back to Earth inside the Soyuz MS-06 spacecraft. At the moment they undock from the ISS the remaining crewmembers, new commander Anton Shkaplerov, Flight Engineers Scott Tingle and Norishige Kanai, become Expedition 55.

Resources for Educators

  1. ISS Latest Updates
  2. Latest Updates About the Expeditions and Crews
  3. What is the International Space Station?