Trio Nears Departure During Space Harvest and Crew Orientation

NASA Flight Engineers Shannon Walker and Michael Hopkins install temporary sleeping quarters inside the Columbus laboratory module from the European Space Agency.
NASA Flight Engineers Shannon Walker and Michael Hopkins install temporary sleeping quarters inside the Columbus laboratory module from the European Space Agency.

Three Expedition 64 crew members reviewed departure procedures today as they get ready to leave the International Space Station at the end of the week. Meanwhile, there was a harvest onboard the orbital lab today while three new crewmates get used to life in space.

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins joined Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov Tuesday afternoon and looked over the steps they will take after they undock from the space station on Friday at 9:34 p.m. EDT. The trio reviewed the g-forces that occur when entering Earth’s atmosphere and experiencing gravity for the first time in 185 days. The former station residents will parachute to Earth inside the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft after leaving the Poisk module about three-and-a-half hours earlier.

A small crop of Amara Mustard and Pak Choi plants was picked today as part of the ongoing Veg-3 space agriculture study. NASA Flight Engineer Michael Hopkins removed the plants from the Columbus lab module’s Veggie Facility and stowed the leaves for later analysis. The botany investigation is informing NASA and its international partners on how to feed crews without resupply ships on future missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

Ongoing technical and life support maintenance is key to ensuring science experiments are up and running and the astronauts stay healthy while orbiting Earth.

Astronaut Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency continued servicing the Cell Biology Experiment Facility, an incubator that generates artificial gravity to support cell and plant biology studies. Victor Glover routed ethernet cables and Shannon Walker, both NASA flight engineers, worked on a U.S. oxygen generator throughout Tuesday.

The station’s newest crew members, Mark Vande Hei of NASA and Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov, both from Roscosmos, are in their first week on the space station. They are getting oriented with station systems while also stepping up their science and maintenance activities. Vande Hei installed acoustic monitors and collected carbon dioxide data today. Novitskiy worked on a Russian radiation experiment as Dubrov checked ear, nose and throat medical equipment.

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