Russia’s newest docking port, the Prichal module, launched today and will arrive on Friday at the International Space Station. Meanwhile, the seven-member Expedition 66 crew is continuing spacewalk preparations while keeping up with ongoing advanced space research.
A Russian Progress spacecraft launched from Kazakhstan at 8:06 a.m. EST (6:06 p.m. Baikonur time) today carrying the five-ton Prichal docking module into Earth orbit. The new module, controlled by the Progress vehicle, will automatically dock to the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module on Friday at 10:26 a.m. Once attached Prichal will provide five additional docking ports and fuel transfer capability to the orbiting lab.
Roscosmos cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov will be on duty Friday monitoring Prichal’s arrival. Friday’s approach and docking will be covered live on NASA TV, the NASA app, and the agency’s website beginning at 9:30 a.m.
Two NASA astronauts have begun focusing on an upcoming spacewalk planned for Nov. 30. Flight Engineers Thomas Marshburn and Kayla Barron checked out spacewalking tools and emergency jetpacks today they would use in the unlikely event they became untethered from the station. The duo is timelined to spend about six-and-a-half hours replacing a faulty antenna system on the Port-1 truss segment.
Flight Engineers Raja Chari of NASA and Matthias Maurer of ESA (European Space Agency) focused on human research strapping sensors to themselves for a pair of exercise studies. Chari performed a fitness test on an exercise cycle to measure his aerobic capacity in space. Maurer then took his turn on the exercise bike wearing a mask and a heart monitor to demonstrate cardio-pulmonary diagnosis aboard the orbiting lab. NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei serviced the COLBERT treadmill inspecting and cleaning its components.
NASA and SpaceX are targeting Tuesday, Dec. 21, at 5:06 a.m. EST for launch of the company’s 24th commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Dragon will bring food, supplies, and scientific investigations to the orbiting crew, including a protein crystal growth study that could improve the delivery of cancer treatment drugs and a handheld bioprinter that could one day be used to print tissue directly onto wounds to faster healing.
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