October is shaping up to be a busy traffic period as the International Space Station gears up for a space delivery, a crew exchange and a commercial crew mission. Meanwhile, the Expedition 63 crew focused on science, eye exams and leak inspections today.
The next U.S. cargo mission to resupply the station is due to launch on Tuesday at 10:27 p.m. EDT from Virginia. The Cygnus space freighter from Northrop Grumman will arrive on Saturday, Oct. 3, packed with nearly 8,000 pounds supplies and gear including an advanced space toilet and brand-new science experiments. Cygnus’ preflight events, launch, rendezvous and robotic capture will be broadcast live on NASA TV.
Three new Expedition 64 crew members will then set their sights on their Oct. 14 launch aboard the Soyuz MS-17 crew ship to the orbiting lab. NASA astronaut Kate Rubins will ride alongside cosmonauts Sergei Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov as they prepare for a 185-day mission in space.
One week later, the new station crew will say goodbye to the Expedition 63 trio that has been living in space since April. Commander Chris Cassidy with Flight Engineers Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner will parachute to Earth inside the Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft on Oct. 21 completing a 195-day station research mission.
SpaceX is targeting Oct. 23 for the launch of four astronauts on its first operational Crew Dragon mission. NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins will command the commercial crew vehicle piloted by first-time space flyer Victor Glover. They will be supported by Mission Specialists and veteran astronauts Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi for the six-month stay at the orbital lab. The quartet will join the Expedition 64 crew one day after launch.
Back on the space station today, Cassidy looked at Ivanishin’s retinas using non-invasive light wave technology, or optical coherence tomography. The commander then prepared Astrobee robotic assistants for an upcoming student competition before servicing an incubator and a science freezer. Ivanishin and Vagner continued checking power and life support systems in the station’s Russian segment.
As part of ongoing work to isolate the source of a slight increase above the standard cabin air leak rate, the Expedition 63 crew used specialized detectors to inspect several windows, seals and valves across the space station. Results from their inspections will be analyzed on the ground.