Science Gear Work and Spacesuit Cleaning Follow Harvest

Expedition 64 Flight Engineer Shannon Walker collects leaf samples from plants growing inside the European Columbus laboratory.
Expedition 64 Flight Engineer Shannon Walker collects leaf samples from plants growing inside the European Columbus laboratory.

The Expedition 64 crew turned its attention to science hardware today following Tuesday’s harvest aboard the International Space Station. The orbital residents also cleaned up following two spacewalks to upgrade communications and power systems.

NASA Flight Engineer Michael Hopkins prepared the NanoRacks Bishop airlock on Wednesday for its upcoming pressurization. The experienced astronaut then finished the day inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon spaceship recharging computer tablets and updating orbital software.

The day before, Hopkins picked a variety of edible plants growing in the station’s Columbus laboratory module including pak choi, wasabi mustard, kale, and red romaine. He snacked on the leaves with his crewmates for a taste test and stowed samples for later analysis as part of the Veg-3 botany study. Space agriculture is key to the success and sustainability of future human missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

Astronauts Kate Rubins and Victor Glover split their day servicing hardware for a long-running suite of experiments known as ACME, or Advanced Combustion in Microgravity Experiments. The duo replaced a variety of components inside the device that hosts the fuel efficiency, pollution and fire safety investigations.

Glover started the day with fellow NASA astronaut Shannon Walker tearing down old video equipment that he and Hopkins uninstalled from Columbus during Monday’s spacewalk. Walker then joined JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi for post-spacewalk maintenance on the U.S. spacesuits Hopkins and Glover wore on Monday.

In the Russian segment of the station, Commander Sergey Ryzhikov worked on Zarya module upkeep and science photography tasks. Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov assisted Ryzhikov with the science photography then moved on to communications and life support work.

Astronauts Wind Down After Spacewalk, Reap Space Harvest

NASA astronaut Michael Hopkins takes an out-of-this-world "space-selfie" during Monday's spacewalk.
NASA astronaut Michael Hopkins takes an out-of-this-world “space-selfie” during Monday’s spacewalk.

Two spacewalkers and their assistants are winding down today following two spacewalks in less than a week. There was also a harvest today aboard the International Space Station as the Expedition 64 crew learns about space agriculture.

NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover completed their second spacewalk together on Monday wrapping up a years-long effort to upgrade the station’s power system. They relaxed Tuesday morning before spending the afternoon on a spacewalk conference and space botany.

The duo joined astronauts Kate Rubins of NASA and Soichi Noguchi of JAXA and called down to spacewalk engineers after lunchtime today. The quartet briefed the specialists on any concerns or issues they had during the Jan. 27 and Feb. 1 spacewalks.

Hopkins spent the rest of the afternoon harvesting plants growing inside the Columbus laboratory module’s Veggie facility. Afterward, he joined his astronaut crewmates including Flight Engineer Shannon Walker and snacked on the freshly picked pak choi, wasabi mustard, kale, and red romaine for a taste test.

In the station’s Russian segment, Commander Sergey Ryzhikov worked on computers, life science hardware and Zarya module maintenance. Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov worked on orbital plumbing tasks and radiation checks then work on a pair of Earth observation experiments.

Spacewalkers Wrap Up Battery Work and Camera Installations

The seven-member Expedition 64 crew poses for a portrait inside the space station's Kibo laboratory module.
The seven-member Expedition 64 crew poses for a portrait inside the space station’s Kibo laboratory module.

NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins and Victor Glover concluded their spacewalk at 1:16 p.m. EST, after 5 hours and 20 minutes. In the second spacewalk of the year, the two NASA astronauts completed work to replace batteries that store power from the station’s solar arrays and upgrade several of the station’s external cameras. The duo finished their planned tasks ahead of schedule and also complete several get-ahead tasks in preparation for future spacewalks.

This spacewalk completes a four-year effort to upgrade the batteries of the International Space Station’s power system, replacing 48 aging nickel-hydrogen batteries with 24 new lithium-ion batteries and adapter plates. With the battery work complete, the focus turns to solar array augmentation.

Two additional spacewalks are planned for the near future. During the next spacewalk, Glover and NASA astronaut Kate Rubins will work outside the station to prepare its power system for the installation of new solar arrays to increase the station’s existing power supply. For a following spacewalk, Rubins and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi will continue upgrading station components. NASA will air a briefing and preview of the next two spacewalks after the dates are set.

This was the fourth spacewalk in Hopkins’ career, and the second for Glover.

Hopkins has now spent a total of 25 hours and 14 minutes spacewalking. Glover now has spent a total of 12 hours and 16 minutes spacewalking.

Space station crew members have conducted 234 spacewalks in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory. Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 61 days, 7 hours, and 7 minutes working outside the station.

Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.