A U.S. rocket stands at its launch pad ready to launch an advanced space toilet and new science experiments toward the International Space Station tonight. Back on orbit, the Expedition 63 trio worked on robotics, health checks and housecleaning today.
NASA and its commercial partner Northrop Grumman are counting down to tonight’s liftoff of the Cygnus space freighter atop an Antares rocket at 9:38 p.m. EDT from Virginia. Cygnus is packed with nearly 8,000 pounds of crew supplies and station gear due for a robotic capture on Sunday at 6:10 a.m.
Commander Chris Cassidy and Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner will be at the robotics workstation Sunday morning monitoring the approach and rendezvous of Cygnus. Cassidy will then command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to grapple Cygnus when it reaches a point about 10 meters from the station. Afterward, engineers on the ground will take over the Canadarm2 and remotely install Cygnus to the Unity module where it will stay until mid-December.
During Thursday morning, Cassidy installed a new robotic 4K camera that looks outside a Kibo laboratory module window at the Earth below. Called Avatar-X, the camera demonstrates how users on the ground can remotely control the camera to view Earth or practice telemedicine in remote locations.
Next, Cassidy strapped himself into an exercise bike with assistance from Vagner for a periodic health check. Vagner spent the rest of the day on photography inspections and plumbing tasks. Veteran cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin took the morning off before spending the afternoon cleaning the ventilation system and researching how multi-cultural crews communicate.