The International Space Station is providing a research platform today to help future astronauts navigate deep space in the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle. The Expedition 58 crew is also testing new lights and setting up the orbital lab for CubeSat deployments.
NASA is planning deep space missions with its new Orion spacecraft that will rely on NASA’s Deep Space Network for communications and navigation. Flight Engineer David Saint-Jacques took photographs of the moon from the cupola today to calibrate Orion’s navigation software. The lunar data will provide additional navigation capability for Orion in the event of a loss of communication with the Deep Space Network.
Another experiment geared towards future exploration taking place aboard the station is the Sextant study. As its name suggests, astronauts are testing a hand-held sextant to focus on stability and star-sighting opportunities while in microgravity. Results may aid future Orion explorers and provide a backup navigation source for missions far beyond Earth orbit.
Astronaut Anne McClain worked throughout the day inside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module. She is setting up the Kibo airlock with hardware to deploy a set of CubeSats on Thursday. The CubeSats have a variety of educational and technical mission objectives including studying the ionosphere and satellite communications.
McClain later tested and photographed new lights that scientists are researching for their ability to improve crew sleep and performance. She also continued loading the Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo craft with disposable gear before it departs from the Unity module Feb. 8.
Both McClain and Saint-Jacques joined Commander Oleg Kononenko early Tuesday for body mass measurements. Kononenko then moved on to life support maintenance, crew culture studies and radiation measurements aboard the orbital lab.