The five astronauts representing the Expedition 66 crew had an off-duty day on Friday while the two cosmonauts continued their post-spacewalk activities. A U.S. resupply ship is also on track to depart the International Space Station on Saturday.
Mission controllers have given the go for the Cargo Dragon, packed with science experiments and station hardware, to undock from the Harmony module’s space-facing port at 10:40 a.m. EST on Saturday. Dragon will then parachute to a splashdown off the coast of Florida early Monday morning for retrieval by SpaceX recovery personnel. NASA TV will cover only the undocking and departure activities live on the NASA app and the agency’s website beginning Saturday at 10:15 a.m.
The four U.S. astronauts and one European astronaut aboard the orbiting lab relaxed today ahead of final cargo packing operations inside the SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle on Saturday. NASA astronaut Kayla Barron along with ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer will begin Saturday loading frozen research samples into Dragon. Following that, NASA Flight Engineers Thomas Marshburn and Raja Chari will ensure all the Dragon cargo has been secured for a safe return to Earth before finally closing the hatch.
NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei will uninstall protein crystal samples, grown on the station and studied for the Advanced Nano Step experiment, then stow them inside the Cargo Dragon. Scientists on the ground will analyze the samples to learn how to develop new materials and drugs in space and the impacts of weightlessness on biochemistry.
Cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov serviced their Orlan spacesuits today following Wednesday’s seven-hour and 11-minute spacewalk. Vande Hei joined the pair for a couple of hours in the afternoon disconnecting and stowing spacesuit components. During the excursion, the Russian spacewalkers activated the new Prichal docking module successfully integrating it with the orbiting lab’s Russian segment.
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