Crew Trains to Capture U.S. Spaceship and Studies the Brain and Breathing

NASA astronaut Anne McClain
NASA astronaut Anne McClain is suited up in the U.S. Quest airlock preparing to begin what would be a six-and-a-half hour spacewalk on April 8, 2019.

The Expedition 59 crew is now training to capture a U.S. cargo ship when it arrives at the International Space Station next week. The orbital lab residents are also busy researching how living in space affects the human mind and body.

Fresh off their spacewalk Monday, astronauts Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques are now practicing to capture Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter with the Canadarm2 robotic arm. McClain will be at the robotics workstation in the cupola April 19 and command the Canadarm2 to capture Cygnus around 5:30 a.m. EDT. Saint-Jacques will back her up while Flight Engineer Nick Hague monitors Cygnus’ systems during its approach and rendezvous. The commercial cargo craft is due to launch April 17 at 4:46 p.m. from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

Hague started his day with more brain research in the Japanese Kibo lab module. The NASA astronaut used a Doppler device to record his arterial blood flow waveforms. The data will help doctors understand how the brain regulates blood flow in microgravity.

The astronauts also researched how the station’s atmosphere affects breathing. The experiment studies how dust, particles and exhaled breath inflames a crewmember’s airways. Observations may reveal conditions that exacerbate or alleviate airway inflammation influencing future space missions.

SpaceX has announced April 26 as the launch date for its next Dragon cargo mission. The private space freighter will blast off from Cape Canaveral in Florida arriving at the station April 28. This time Saint-Jacques will lead the robotics capture activities while Hague backs him up.

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