New Satellites Set for Deployment, Cargo Craft Ready for Departure

(From left) Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy and Flight Engineer Bob Behnken are pictured inside the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM).
(From left) Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy and Flight Engineer Bob Behnken are pictured inside the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM).

The Expedition 63 crew readied a pair of tiny satellites for deployment and finished packing a Russian cargo craft for departure. The International Space Station residents also checked on BEAM today then worked on life support and computer maintenance.

Two CubeSats were installed inside a NanoRacks small satellite deployer this morning for release into Earth orbit later this week from outside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module. NASA Commander Chris Cassidy set up the satellite gear and placed it inside Kibo’s airlock for retrieval by the Japanese robotic arm. One satellite will demonstrate the performance of a tiny but powerful exo-planet telescope, while the other will test returning small payloads safely into Earth’s atmosphere.

Russia’s Progress 74 (74P) resupply ship has been packed with trash and obsolete gear and is ready to end its seven-month stay at the orbiting lab. Cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner finalized the cargo transfers today before closing the 74P’s hatch and performing the standard spacecraft leak checks. The 74P will undock Wednesday at 2:23 p.m. EDT from the Pirs docking compartment and descend into Earth’s atmosphere over the South Pacific for a fiery disposal.

BEAM, the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, has been attached to the station since 2016 and is currently being used as a storage space. NASA Flight Engineers Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken opened up and entered BEAM today to check sensor batteries and retrieve charcoal filters. The sensors monitor BEAM’s pressure and environment while the filters remove impurities from the station’s atmosphere.

The duo also worked on a variety of lab maintenance tasks keeping the station in tip-top shape. Hurley worked on orbital plumbing and checked computer connections. Behnken set up the charcoal filters from BEAM and upgraded software on a laptop computer dedicated to operations in the Microgravity Science Glovebox.

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