Robotics and Space Biology Today as Cosmonauts Look to Next Spacewalk

NASA astronaut Anne McClain checks out new Astrobee hardware
NASA astronaut Anne McClain works inside the Japanese Kibo laboratory module checking out the new Astrobee hardware. The cube-shaped, free-flying robotic assistant could save the crew time performing routine maintenance duties and providing additional lab monitoring capabilities.

A pair of robotic arms from Canada and Japan continued swapping experiment hardware on the International Space Station over the weekend. Meanwhile, the Expedition 59 crew started the week exploring robotics and biology today while a pair of cosmonauts look to the next spacewalk.

The 57.7-foot-long Canadarm2 robotic arm started removing a pair of external investigations last week from the SpaceX Dragon’s unpressurized trunk. The remotely controlled Canadarm2 first grabbed the new Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3 (OCO-3) then handed it off to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) robotic arm for installation on the Kibo lab module’s external pallet.

The Canadarm2 next removed the Space Test Program-Houston 6 (STP-H6) experiment from Dragon and installed it on the station’s truss structure. STP-H6 provides a platform for studying space physics to improve spacecraft navigation and communication techniques. The Canadian robotic arm then removed the completed SCAN radio communications study from the truss and placed it inside Dragon’s trunk.

JAXA’s robotic arm also retrieved the Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (CATS) experiment from the station and handed it off to the Canadarm2 for installation inside Dragon’s trunk. CATS successfully began demonstrating atmospheric monitoring after its delivery aboard a SpaceX Dragon cargo craft in January 2015. CATS and SCAN will now burn up in the atmosphere when Dragon’s trunk separates from the resupply ship before it returns to Earth at the end of May.

Back inside the orbital lab today, NASA astronaut Anne McClain calibrated the Astrobee and mapped the Kibo lab module with the free-flying robotic assistant. Flight Engineers Nick Hague and Christina Koch continued exploring how space changes the immune system, pathogens and kidney cells.

Two cosmonauts, Commander Oleg Kononenko and Flight Engineer Alexey Ovchinin, are planning for the fourth spacewalk at the station this year on May 29. The duo is timelined for about six hours of experiment retrieval work, window cleaning and sample collecting on the station’s Russian segment.

2 thoughts on “Robotics and Space Biology Today as Cosmonauts Look to Next Spacewalk”

  1. Hello,

    I have been following you guy’s now almost 20 years, and i was just now able to read this message on my computer at home. It is a broadcasted service by YouTube. This way i can ride along with the iss, and we at earth are able to chat to eachother, and discuss actually the same issues you have as experiments on board. Weather, biology, food growth, health, psychology and everything else. The repairations are actually facility added rooms, is it not? I would like to know with how many people it is possible to now endure a good while up there in space. Are there some activities you miss, or have hearth there from us that are real enjoyable? Hope to hear from you, and greetings, Marcel.

    1. The most people living in space at one time was 13 when the space shuttle was docked to the International Space Station. Currently, there are six people living aboard the station.

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