Cargo and Science Operations Start Work Week

 The SpaceX Crew Dragon and the Japan's HTV-9 resupply ship figure prominently in this photograph taken during the July 1 spacewalk.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon and the Japan’s HTV-9 resupply ship figure prominently in this photograph taken during the July 1 spacewalk.

A Russian cargo craft is due to depart the International Space Station in the middle of the week after seven months on orbit. The five-member Expedition 63 crew stayed busy all-day Monday continuing the upkeep of space research gear and life support hardware.

The Progress 74 (74P) resupply ship is being packed with trash and obsolete gear today ahead of its undocking on Wednesday at 2:23 p.m. EDT. The 74P has been attached to the Pirs docking compartment since Dec. 9 where it docked carrying nearly three tons of food, fuel and supplies for the orbital residents. After separating from the station, the 74P will fire its deorbit engines over the South Pacific and burn up safely in the Earth’s atmosphere.

The Progress 76 (76P), the next cargo ship to replenish the crew, is scheduled to launch on July 23 and dock to Pirs just two orbits later. The station will slightly lower its orbit on Saturday to accommodate the approach and rendezvous of 76P. This follows last week’s orbital maneuver to boost the station out of the way of a piece of rocket debris near its flight path.

Amidst the cargo craft operations, the space lab residents serviced a variety of advanced science equipment today. The gear work is continuing the numerous space experiments benefiting humans on Earth and in space.

Commander Chris Cassidy stowed satellite deployment gear before cleaning a specialized furnace that enables observation of materials heated to extreme temperatures. Flight Engineers Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken juggled an array of orbital plumbing, computer maintenance, light installation and sensor battery swap tasks.

Cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin replaced fuel bottles inside the Combustion Integrated Rack to continue safe fuel and flame research. Fellow cosmonaut Ivan Vagner checked smoke detectors and photographed the Earth while wrapping up cargo operations in the 74P. The duo started the day measuring their body mass using a device that applies a known force to the crew member with the resulting acceleration providing a mass calculation.

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