Space station and Commercial Crew managers wrapped up a spacewalk briefing Monday afternoon discussing the installation of a new International Docking Adapter at the end of the week. Spacewalkers Jeff Williams and Kate Rubins will begin the installation work Friday at 8:05 a.m. EDT to enable future crew vehicles from Boeing and SpaceX to dock in the future.
The first major task begins Wednesday evening when the docking adapter is extracted from the rear of the SpaceX Dragon space freighter. The Canadarm2 will then maneuver the new adapter about three feet away from the forward end of the Harmony module. It will stay there until Friday when Williams and Rubins will complete the installation during a 6.5 hour spacewalk.
Meanwhile, Williams is loading gear into Dragon for return to Earth and retrieval by NASA and SpaceX engineers. Dragon’s last day at the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module is Aug. 26 when it will be grappled and then released by the Canadarm2 for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.
The crew also explored a wide variety of space research today amidst the spacewalk preparations. A pair of cosmonauts studied how microgravity impacts fluid shifts from the lower body to the upper body. Rubins researched the physics of tiny particles suspended in water possibly benefiting materials manufacturing on Earth. Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi observed altered gene expression and DNA changes in mice and their offspring living in space.