The six-member Expedition 61 crew is relaxing today and enjoying a belated Thanksgiving meal after an intense week of biology research and spacewalk preparations. A Russian resupply ship also departed the International Space Station this morning as two more space freighters are poised to replenish the orbiting lab. The ISS Progress 73 cargo ship, loaded with trash, undocked from the Pirs Docking Compartment and was deorbited, burning up over the Pacific Ocean.
The four astronauts and two cosmonauts on the orbiting lab were off-duty today sharing a Thanksgiving meal together after working all day during the U.S. holiday. Most of the fixings that dress a turkey on a dining table on Earth were available aboard the station’s galley including cornbread, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy.
NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan were busy on Thursday finalizing research operations as they collected blood and cell samples from rodents. Commander Luca Parmitano and Flight Engineer Christina Koch also assisted the duo in Japan’s Kibo laboratory module. Scientists on Earth will observe the samples to gain insights into afflictions such as cancer and diabetes potentially designing advanced therapies for humans on Earth and in space.
Morgan and Parmitano now turn their attention to Monday’s spacewalk to continue the complex repair job on a cosmic particle detector on the station’s truss. They will be employing complex and innovative repair techniques never performed in space to replace a faulty cooling pump on the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer. The spacewalkers will set their U.S. spacesuits to battery power at 6:50 a.m. EST on Monday signifying the start of their venture. NASA TV begins its live broadcast at 5:30 a.m.
Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka monitored the Progress 73 resupply ship as it undocked at 4:25 a.m. EST Friday completing its four-month mission at the station. It reentered the Earth’s atmosphere a few hours later and burned up safely over the south Pacific.
SpaceX is targeting Dec. 4 for the launch if its 19th commercial cargo mission to the space station. The Dragon space freighter would arrive on Dec. 7 delivering a variety of brand new research gear including Japan’s Hyperspectral Imager Suite, or HISUI.
Russia will follow SpaceX with the launch of its Progress 74 (74P) cargo craft on Dec. 6. The 74P will arrive on Dec. 9 for an automated docking to the Pirs docking compartment.