Vein, Eye Scans on Station as Next Crew Nears Launch

(From left) Expedition 65 crew members Pyotr Dubrov, Oleg Novitskiy and Mark Vande Hei, pose for a photo during Soyuz qualification exams in Moscow.
(From left) Expedition 65 crew members Pyotr Dubrov, Oleg Novitskiy and Mark Vande Hei, pose for a photo during Soyuz qualification exams in Moscow.

The Expedition 64 crew continued researching how microgravity affects biology aboard the International Space Station today. The orbital residents also conducted vein and eye checks and prepared for three new crew members due in early April.

NASA Flight Engineer Shannon Walker joined Russian cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov for vein and eye scans on Thursday. Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi led the effort scanning veins in the trio’s neck, clavicle and shoulder areas using the Ultrasound 2 device in the morning. In the afternoon, Noguchi examined Walker’s eyes using the orbiting lab’s optical coherence tomography gear.

Walker also assisted fellow Flight Engineer Kate Rubins of NASA setting up samples of tiny worms for viewing in a microscope. Rubins captured video of the microscopic worms wriggling around to learn how microgravity affects genetic expression and muscle function. Insights from the Micro-16 study may benefit human health on and off the Earth.

Astronauts Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover focused on station maintenance throughout Thursday. Hopkins set up alternate sleep accommodations ahead of the Expedition 65 crew launch and docking set for April 9 when 10 people will be on the station until April 17. Glover serviced Water Recycling System components checking for leaks and tightening fittings on the rack located inside the Tranquility module.

Ryzhikov continued observing plasma dust crystals for the ongoing space physics study taking place in the station’s Russian segment. Kud-Sverchkov wiped down equipment inside the Zarya module then explored how pilots may operate spacecraft on future planetary missions.

Back on Earth in Moscow, three Expedition 65 crew members are getting ready to head to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan where their Soyuz MS-18 rocket is being processed for its April 9 launch. Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei of NASA and Pyotr Dubrov of Roscosmos will flank Soyuz Commander Oleg Novitskiy during their three-and-a-half-hour ride to their new home in space.

Just over a week later, Rubins will return to Earth with her Expedition 64 crewmates Ryzhikov and Kud-Sverchkov. They will parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan inside the Soyuz MS-17 crew ship after 185 days aboard the station.

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