Four astronauts who have been aboard the International Space Station since November continue to prepare for their return to Earth. This comes at the same time as four new astronauts are beginning their mission and getting used to living and working aboard the orbiting lab.
Expedition 67 Commander Tom Marshburn is getting ready to hand over station control to Roscosmos Flight Engineer Oleg Artemyev. The traditional change of command ceremony will take place Tuesday at 2:45 p.m. EDT live on NASA TV’s app and website, when the station’s nine flight engineers witness Marshburn handing over the station’s leadership role to Artemyev.
In the meantime, Marshburn and Flight Engineers Raja Chari, Kayla Barron, and Matthias Maurer, are packing up and preparing for their return to Earth. The quartet will board the SpaceX Dragon Endurance later this week then undock from the Harmony module’s forward port ending their stay on the space station. Chari will command the ride back home when the foursome parachutes to a splashdown off the coast of Florida about a day after undocking.
Meanwhile, the station’s four newest crew members, who have been on the station less than a week, are kicking off their first science experiments while also getting up to speed with lab systems and operations.
NASA’s first time space-flyers Robert Hines and Jessica Watkins worked in the Columbus laboratory module on Monday and explored how microgravity affects their dexterous manipulation. NASA Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren, on his second mission, collected and stored his blood and urine samples then spent the rest of the day on station familiarization and handover activities. ESA (European Space Agency) Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti serviced life support equipment while also spending time adapting to life on the space station.
Artemyev, on his third space station mission, is about to take command of the Expedition 67 crew until late summer. Today, he worked on a pair of Russian experiments exploring future spacecraft and robotic piloting techniques, as well as effective ways to exercise in weightlessness. Flight Engineer Denis Matveev inspected the ISS Progress 80 cargo craft then continued cleaning up after April 28’s spacewalk to activate the European robotic arm. Flight Engineer Sergey Korsakov swapped out a Russian computer before participating in more space exercise research at the end of the day.