Crew Relaxes as Two Robotic Arms Prepare for Payload Handoffs

The three crewmates who rode the Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft
The three crewmates who rode the Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft to the International Space Station gather inside the Rassvet module after conducting a periodic routine emergency drill. From left are, Soyuz Commander Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos and NASA Flight Engineers Nick Hague and Christina Koch.

The Expedition 59 crew has a light duty day today with some science work on the schedule. Meanwhile, robotics controllers are preparing to swap external payloads in the unpressurized trunk of the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft.

NASA Flight Engineer Christina Koch checked samples today as she continued exploring why pathogens become more virulent in space. Later, she set up hardware for the Kidney Cells experiment that seeks innovative treatments for humans on Earth and in space.

Astronaut Nick Hague of NASA retrieved sample trays from a materials exposure experiment brought back inside the Kibo lab module. Fellow NASA astronaut Anne McClain checked on mice being observed for changes to their immune systems in microgravity.

Two new experiments are ready for robotic extraction from the SpaceX Dragon and installation on the International Space Station starting Thursday night and into the weekend. An older experiment will be removed from the station and placed back in Dragon.

The remotely controlled Canadarm2 robotic arm will first extract the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3 (OCO-3) from Dragon’s trunk. Japan’s robotic arm will then take hold of the OCO-3 and install the global carbon detection device on Kibo’s external pallet. The Canadarm2 will then extract and install the Space Test Program-Houston 6 hardware for space physics research on the station’s truss structure.

Finally, the Japanese robotic arm will hand off the Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (CATS) to the Canadarm2 for installation in Dragon’s trunk. CATS will burn up over Earth’s atmosphere when Dragon’s trunk separates during its reentry at the end of May. A SpaceX Dragon resupply ship delivered CATS in January of 2015 for robotic installation outside Kibo. CATS successfully demonstrated low cost atmospheric monitoring techniques from the station.

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