Resupply Rocket Rolls Out to Pad, Crew Keeps up Space Studies

Russia's ISS Progress 77 space freighter stands at the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: Roscosmos
Russia’s ISS Progress 77 space freighter stands at the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: Roscosmos

The next rocket to launch a resupply ship to the International Space Station rolled out to its launch pad on the other side of the world this morning. Back on the orbiting lab, the seven-member Expedition 64 crew kept up its space studies while servicing U.S. spacesuits.

Russia’s ISS Progress 77 cargo craft is standing atop its rocket at the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch pad in Kazakhstan. It is counting down to liftoff on Sunday at 11:45 p.m. EST to deliver just over one ton of nitrogen, water and propellant to the station. It will dock Tuesday at 1:20 a.m. to the Pirs docking compartment.

The Progress 77 will later detach Pirs from the station readying the Zvezda service module’s port for a new module. Pirs will then be replaced with the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module to be delivered on a Proton rocket. The Pirs undocking occurs a few days after Nauka’s launch to enable Russian flight controllers to confirm a good vehicle in orbit heading to the station.

In the meantime, science is the main mission aboard the station. Microgravity research has the potential to reveal new insights and potential therapies that otherwise wouldn’t be possible on Earth due to gravity’s interference.

NASA Flight Engineers Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover partnered up on Friday for a pair of different experiments. The duo demonstrated how hydroponics may support space agriculture then explored how the human nervous system adapts to weightlessness.

Astronauts Kate Rubins of NASA and Soichi Noguchi of JAXA joined each other for maintenance work inside the Tranquility module. Rubins also collected microbe samples to understand how they survive and adapt on the station. NASA Flight Engineer Shannon Walker spent the day working on batteries that keep life support systems powered inside U.S. spacesuits.

Cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov continued studying how the lack of gravity impacts the effectiveness of a workout. Ryzhikov also checked seating inside the Soyuz MS-17 crew ship as Kud-Sverchkov worked on ventilation and radiation hardware.

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