Two Flight Engineers’ Stay Extended; Biology, Maintenance Work Pick Up

Astronaut Mark Vande Hei conducted kidney cell research inside the Kibo laboratory module's Life Science Glovebox back in June 2021.
Astronaut Mark Vande Hei conducted kidney cell research inside the Kibo laboratory module’s Life Science Glovebox back in June 2021.

Two International Space Station crew members have had their stay onboard the orbiting lab extended to nearly a year. Meanwhile, space biology and life support maintenance kept the Expedition 65 crew busy on Tuesday.

With the plans for Russian spaceflight participants to visit the space station as part of the Soyuz MS-19 crew in October 2021, NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and Roscosmos cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov will remain aboard the station until March 2022. Upon return to Earth, Vande Hei will hold the record for longest single spaceflight for an American.

A potential benefit to this extension is NASA gaining deeper insight into how the human body adapts to life in microgravity for longer periods of time. This research helps prepare for Artemis missions to the Moon and eventually long-duration missions to Mars, as well as provides critical opportunities for additional research to be conducted aboard the station that can benefit life on Earth.

Rodents living on the station will soon be studied to understand how microgravity affects a variety of biological systems and processes. NASA Flight Engineers Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough began their day Tuesday training for the Rodent Research-1 Demonstration (RR-D1) experiment that will take place inside the Kibo laboratory module.

Afterward, the crew studied for the upcoming RR-D1 study. The experiment will be housed inside the Life Science Glovebox. The biology study specifically aims to understand how weightlessness impacts normal skin function and wound healing.

Vande Hei, with assistance from Kimbrough, removed support components today that kept a new carbon dioxide (CO2) scrubber attached to the SpaceX Cargo Dragon spaceship during its flight to the station last month. The device that cleans the station’s atmosphere of CO2 will soon be installed in the U.S. Destiny laboratory module.

Dubrov and fellow cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy are still reconfiguring the station’s Russian segment following their two spacewalks on Sept. 3 and Sept. 9. The duo also took turns wearing heart monitoring gear. Dubrov then began setting up a laptop computer and a European robotic arm controller inside the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module.

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