Robotics, Muscle Research During Ongoing Spacewalk Preps

Astronaut Megan McArthur works on a muscle study in the Kibo laboratory module as station Commander Akihiko Hoshide poses behind her.
Astronaut Megan McArthur works on a muscle study in the Kibo laboratory module as station Commander Akihiko Hoshide poses behind her.

The Astrobee robotic free-flyers were powered up aboard the International Space Station and cell samples were set up for human muscle research today. The Expedition 65 crew is also headlong into U.S. and Russian spacewalk preparations while working on a variety of other science experiments.

NASA Flight Engineer Megan McArthur started Thursday morning turning on the cube-shaped Astrobee robotic helpers located inside the Kibo laboratory module. The toaster-sized free-flyers were demonstrating autonomous and coordinated operations during the afternoon. The ReSWARM robotics study may inform future space assembly and satellite repair techniques.

Commander Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) was also working in Kibo servicing cell samples for the Anti-Atrophy muscle investigation. The samples are being incubated and observed in the Cell Biology Experiment Facility to learn how to prevent and treat space-caused muscle atrophy and Earth-bound muscle conditions.

Hoshide then joined NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei and checked their U.S. spacesuit components and emergency jet packs during the afternoon. They will exit the U.S. Quest airlock on Aug. 24 to install a modification kit on the Port-4 (P4) truss structure to get ready for upcoming Roll-Out Solar Array installation work.

Two Russian spacewalks are also on the docket for cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov in early September. The duo will exit the Poisk module‘s airlock for both excursions to get the Nauka Multipurpose Laboratory Module ready for science operations. Today, they studied the paths toward their external worksites on a computer then checked their Orlan spacesuits and spacewalk tools in Poisk.

Several other space investigations were also underway today to support space biology research.  ESA (European Space Agency) Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet worked in the Columbus laboratory module measuring sound levels and setting up hardware for the Eklosion botany study. NASA Flight Engineer Shane Kimbrough took a robotics test for the Behavioral Core Measurements human research experiment then checked samples for the Ring Sheared Drop fluid physics study.

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