NASA’s International Space Station commander configured robotic assistants today while continuing to get ready for next week’s U.S. cargo craft departure. The two Expedition 63 Flight Engineers from Roscosmos explored advanced space photography techniques and inventoried electronics gear.
Three-time space visitor Chris Cassidy is readying a trio of cube-shaped, free-flying robotic assistants for upcoming operations. The NASA astronaut and Navy captain swapped batteries in the advanced devices being tested for their ability to autonomously navigate the station and service small payloads. The program dubbed Astrobee is researching the potential of small robots to perform routine duties and monitor activities freeing up crew time for critical science.
A U.S. space freighter will leave the station Monday after nearly three months attached to the Unity module. Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus resupply ship will be released from the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm at noon EDT on Monday completing its cargo mission.
Not only is Cygnus being packed with trash, but Cassidy prepared it for secondary missions to research space fires and deploy a set of CubeSats. Once Cygnus reaches a safe distance from the orbital lab, a small satellite deployer configuring on its hatch will eject a pair of nanosatellites. The shoe box-sized research satellites will research ways to improve space communication techniques and GPS mapping systems.
Over in the Russian segment, cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner concentrated on their set of tasks to maintain station operations. Ivanishin, who is on his third station mission, started his day with Vagner studying techniques to accurately detect and locate landmarks to improve Earth observations.
Ivanishin then spent the rest of the day servicing Russian life support gear and communications systems. First-time station resident Vagner inventoried electrical gear and checked network connections throughout the station’s five Russian modules.