The crew of Expedition 64 took time to catch up on maintenance tasks for the International Space Station during a week bookended by some major activities: a spacewalk including NASA astronauts Victor Glover and Michael Hopkins the previous Saturday and a Soyuz relocation maneuver coming up on Friday.
NASA astronaut Shannon Walker worked with Astrobee, a technology demonstration starring small, free-flying cube-shaped robots, for the Astrobatics investigation. Like the name implies, the handy robots demonstrate what kind of acrobatics they are capable of performing using robotic manipulators to execute “hopping,” or self-toss maneuvers, as a means of propulsion. The increasingly complex moves attempted within the safe confines of the orbiting laboratory show what future robotic explorers may be capable of doing not only for advanced human space exploration missions, but as mechanical assistants to the astronauts.
In the Russian segment, Commander Sergey Ryzhikov tested space station circuitry while Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov conducted an eye examination — part of an ongoing effort track changes that occur to the shape of the crew members’ eyes during and after extended stays in microgravity.
Hopkins, along with crewmate Kate Rubins, performed additional upkeep for the spacesuits used during the latest excursion outside the station — this the fifth spacewalk of 2021. The pair stowed spacewalking tools and took care to scrub and disinfect the tubing that moves water throughout the suits.
Another duo hard at work aboard the orbiting outpost — Glover and Soichi Noguchi of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) — performed maintenance to the Water Recovery System-1 Rack to regain functionality of its water-processing capability, also switching out a smoke detector in the midst of their efforts. The pair later returned the T2 treadmill to its normal configuration.