Astronauts Research Disease Therapies Ahead of Complex Repair Spacewalk

NASA astronaut and spacewalker Andrew Morgan
Astronaut Andrew Morgan points his camera towards himself to take an out-of-this-world “space-selfie” during the second spacewalk to repair the the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer.

Two Expedition 61 astronauts are getting up to speed with the fine repair techniques they will use next week during the 11th spacewalk of 2019. The International Space Station is also hosting intense biology work this week to improve the health of humans in space and on Earth.

The orbiting lab’s cosmic particle detector, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS), is getting a new thermal control system that requires innovative spacewalking repair techniques. Astronauts Andrew Morgan and Luca Parmitano are studying the careful, deliberate procedures with new tools specifically designed for the job. The AMS, which has exceeded its three-year operational lifespan by five-and-a-half years, was never designed to be repaired in space.

Morgan and Parmitano will continue the AMS repair job during their third spacewalk together beginning Monday at 6:50 a.m. EST. This will be the third of four planned spacewalks to ensure the astrophysics device continues searching for evidence of dark matter and antimatter for years to come. NASA TV will start its live broadcast at 5:30 a.m.

The Life Sciences Glovebox (LSG) in the Japanese Kibo lab module is seeing a lot of biology research work this week. NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch are looking at blood and cell samples in the LSG to understand the stresses microgravity imposes on organisms. Doctors are looking for advanced therapeutic insights into Earth-bound diseases such as cancer and diabetes as well as space-caused ailments. Morgan and Parmitano are also on life science duty this week assisting the duo in between spacewalk preparations.

In the Russian segment of the station, Roscosmos Flight Engineer Oleg Skripochka attached sensors to his legs to observe how his veins are adapting to long-term spaceflight. Cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov worked on computer hardware and life support gear.

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