It was 45 years ago today when American astronauts and Russian cosmonauts shook hands for the first time in Earth orbit. The Apollo crew ship commanded by NASA astronaut Tom Stafford docked to the Soyuz crew ship led by Alexei Leonov on July 17, 1975, signifying the beginning of international cooperation in space.
Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy and Flight Engineers Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner commemorated the event today with a call from U.S. and Russian dignitaries. The Apollo-Soyuz Test Project would lay the groundwork for the Shuttle-Mir project and the International Space Station program.
Cassidy later joined his NASA crewmates Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to prepare for Tuesday’s spacewalk to wrap up battery swaps on the orbiting lab. Behnken and Cassidy will install the last lithium-ion battery on the station’s truss structure completing the 3.5 year-long power upgrade job. This follows Thursday’s six-hour spacewalk when the duo installed three lithium-ion batteries.
Before they go back inside the Quest airlock next week, the veteran spacewalkers will have one more job. The duo will get the Tranquility module ready for a new airlock built by NASA commercial partner NanoRacks. The airlock will enable public and private research on the outside of the station after its delivery on an upcoming SpaceX Dragon cargo mission.
Meanwhile, critical space science to benefit humans on and off the Earth continues aboard the station. Ivanishin explored how microgravity impacts blood circulation and pain sensitivity. Vagner collected radiation measurements then studied how crews may pilot spaceships and robots on future space missions.