Station Works External Science, Maintenance Before Next Crew Launch

NASA astronaut and Andrew Morgan takes photographs of the Earth
NASA astronaut and Andrew Morgan takes photographs of the Earth from the Window Observation Research Facility inside NASA’s Destiny laboratory module.

The Expedition 62 crew took a break today from its weeks-long space biology research aboard the International Space Station. Instead, the orbital residents focused on setting up an external science payload and maintaining life support systems.

Research takes place not only inside the space station, but also outside as scientists study how extreme temperatures and space radiation affect a variety of materials. NASA Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan configured hardware today containing a materials science experiment for installation outside the orbital lab. He placed the gear inside the Kibo laboratory module’s airlock where it was depressurized. The Canadarm2 robotic arm will retrieve the experiment and externally install it on the station.

NASA astronaut Jessica Meir started her day collecting samples of the station’s water for microbial analysis. In the afternoon, she serviced an experiment module that can generate artificial gravity environments before working on orbital plumbing at the end of her shift.

Veteran cosmonaut and station Commander Oleg Skripochka continued more communication tests today checking two-way audio and video satellite links. He also wrapped up a study that observed Earth’s upper atmosphere in visible and near-infrared wavelengths. At the end of the day, Skripochka shared his inputs for the long-running experiment researching the interactions between crews and mission controllers.

The new Expedition 63 crew is in Russia getting ready for its launch on April 9 aboard the Soyuz MS-16 crew ship. NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy with Roscosmos cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner are wrapping up two days of final qualification exams. The trio will soon head to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for final preparations before beginning their 195-day mission aboard the orbiting lab.

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