10-Member Crew Juggles Human Research, Spacewalk Cleanup, and Robotics

Astronaut Kayla Barron poses for a portrait with spacewalkers (from left) Matthias Maurer and Raja Chari before the beginning of Wednesday's spacewalk.
Astronaut Kayla Barron poses for a portrait with spacewalkers (from left) Matthias Maurer and Raja Chari before the beginning of Wednesday’s spacewalk.

The 10 Expedition 66 crew members aboard the International Space Station wrapped up the workweek exploring ways to adapt to microgravity, cleaning up after a spacewalk, and completing robotics work. The orbital crewmates also prepared a crew ship for departure and checked emergency gear.

NASA Flight Engineers Raja Chari and Kayla Barron took turns in the Columbus laboratory module on Friday studying how astronauts manipulate objects for ESA’s (European Space Agency) GRIP experiment. The duo sat in a specialized chair making gripping motions and tapping gestures as video cameras monitored their activities. Results may inform the design of intelligent spacecraft interfaces for a variety of gravity environments on lunar and planetary surfaces.

Chari also joined ESA Flight Engineer Matthias Maurer in the U.S. Quest airlock for cleanup duties after this week’s spacewalk. The duo spent six hours and 54-minutes during a spacewalk on Wednesday installing thermal gear and electronics components on the orbiting lab. Maurer later tested the EasyMotion suit that stimulates muscles while working out on the U.S. Destiny laboratory module’s exercise cycle. Researchers are exploring the effectiveness of the suit which may enhance and shorten the duration of working out in weightlessness.

NASA astronauts Tom Marshburn and Mark Vande Hei worked throughout the day on maintenance activities. Marshburn serviced components on a unique incubator that can generate artificial gravity inside the Cell Biology Experiment Facility. Vande Hei cleaned ventilation systems inside station crew quarters.

Vande Hei is now turning his attention to his upcoming crew departure on March 30 with cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov. He ended Friday finalizing computer tasks necessary before he returns to Earth. Shkaplerov scanned and loaded cargo inside the Soyuz MS-19 crew ship that will take the trio home. Shkaplerov also joined Dubrov and evaluated the lower body negative pressure suit for its ability to counteract the effects of weightlessness on the human body.

Dubrov also partnered with Roscosmos cosmonaut Sergey Korsakov as they completed check out activities of the European Robotic Arm’s controls inside the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module. Korsakov also had a session with cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev and Denis Matveev reviewing station emergency procedures and hardware.

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