A SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is poised to lift off this week from Florida to the International Space Station. The Expedition 59 crew will welcome Dragon when it arrives three days later carrying nearly 5,500 pounds of cargo.
Dragon will be encapsulated atop the Falcon 9 rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for a countdown to its Wednesday launch at 3:59 a.m. EDT. Astronaut David Saint-Jacques will be at the controls of the robotics workstation Saturday commanding the Canadarm2 to capture Dragon around 6:45 a.m. NASA TV will broadcast the launch and capture activities live.
He and fellow flight engineers Nick Hague, Anne McClain and Christina Koch are familiarizing themselves with the complex cargo unpacking procedures today. Dragon is also carrying external cargo, including the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3, that will be removed by robotics controllers and installed on the station.
In the meantime, the space residents have been filming a virtual reality experience aboard the orbital lab. Today, McClain set up the 360-degree camera in the U.S. Destiny lab module to film herself talking about her space experience as her crewmates work around her.
Koch is helping engineers learn how to produce high quality optical fibers on the space station. The weightless environment of space provides the opportunity to explore manufacturing techniques that are superior to those on Earth. Results could improve space technologies as well as provide more Earth-bound benefits.
On the Russian side of the station, Commander Oleg Kononenko focused on lab maintenance ensuring life support systems are in tip-top shape. Flight Engineer Alexey Ovchinin spent a couple of hours cleaning Orlan spacesuits before checking radiation sensors and replacing fire extinguishers.
Monday morning, teams identified an issue with the International Space Station’s electrical power system and are working to identify the root cause and restore full power to the system. There are no immediate concerns for the crew or the station. An issue is being worked with a Main Bus Switching Unit (MBSU) that distributes electrical power to two of the eight power channels on the station. Flight controllers have been working to route power through the remaining six power channels. Electrical power generated by the station’s solar arrays is fed to all station systems through these power channels. Discussions are underway to determine any impacts to SpaceX’s CRS-17 cargo resupply mission targeted for launch May 1.