Station Gears Up for April Crew Swaps, Keeps Up Space Research

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spaceship, with its two lit crew windows, is pictured docked to the Harmony module's international docking adapter.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon spaceship, with its two lit crew windows, is pictured docked to the Harmony module’s international docking adapter.

Four Expedition 64 astronauts will take a quick ride inside their SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle to a new docking port next week as the International Space Station ramps up for a series of crew swaps.

Resilience, the first operational crew ship from SpaceX, will back out from its forward-facing port on the Harmony module on April 5 at 6:30 a.m. EDT. Dragon Commander Michael Hopkins, Pilot Victor Glover and Crew-1 astronauts Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi will be inside the Crew Dragon as it autonomously maneuvers to a docking on Harmony’s space-facing port about 45 minutes later.

April will be a busy month on the orbital lab as three new Expedition 65 crew members, NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov, get ready for their April 9 launch to the station aboard the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft. Expedition 64 will end on April 17 when NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov undock from the Poisk module inside the Soyuz MS-17 crew ship and return to Earth.

The four Crew-1 astronauts are also due to return to Earth at the end of April. They will be replaced about a week before by four SpaceX Crew-2 crewmembers including Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur from NASA, Thomas Pesquet from ESA (European Space Agency), and Akihiko Hoshide from Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

Meanwhile, the station’s seven orbital residents are still keeping up an array of research into microgravity’s impact on biology and physics.

Rubins was the Crew Medical Officer on Monday scanning neck, shoulder and leg veins in Hopkins and Noguchi using the Ultrasound-2 device. Hopkins then joined Glover and Walker for cognition tests for the Standard Measures investigation observing how astronauts adapt to weightlessness.

On the Russian side of the station, station Commander Sergey Ryzhikov packed hard drives containing plasma physics research data for return to Earth with the Expedition 64 trio. Roscosmos Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov swabbed surfaces inside the Zvezda service module to collect microbe samples for later analysis.

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