Three International Space Station crew members are getting used to life on orbit as another set of crewmates gets ready to return to Earth after a six-month mission in space. In the meantime, orbital maintenance to ensure the station remains in tip-top shape and microgravity research to improve life for humans on and off the Earth are continuously ongoing.
The newest crew members aboard the orbiting lab, NASA astronaut Frank Rubio and Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin, are starting their station orientation and familiarization activities. The trio will be reviewing a host of station systems, lab hardware, and safety procedures over the next few days to adjust to living and working in weightlessness over 250 miles above the Earth.
They are replacing current Expedition 67 crew members Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev, and Sergey Korsakov, who have been aboard the station since March 18. The outgoing crew will complete their mission at the end of the month when they board the Soyuz MS-21 crew ship, undock from the Prichal module, reenter Earth’s atmosphere, and parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan.
Artemyev, the station commander, will hand over leadership responsibilities to ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti before he departs. The traditional Change of Command ceremony will be seen live on NASA TV, the agency’s app, and its website beginning at 9:35 a.m. on Sept. 28.
Cristoforetti began the last day of the workweek checking food inventory and moving food packs from the Unity module to the Permanent Multipurpose Module. She later worked on U.S. spacesuit pressure relief valves before assisting Rubio with his space adaptation tasks. NASA Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren also helped Rubio adjust to life on the station during the morning. Lindgren then checked spacewalk tool batteries, organized cargo in the Kibo laboratory module, and finally inspected the ventilation system inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module.
Human research and space physics wrapped up the science schedule for a pair of astronauts going into the weekend. NASA Flight Engineer Bob Hines strapped sensors to himself Friday morning and pedaled on an exercise cycle to monitor how microgravity affects his aerobic capacity. NASA Flight Engineer Jessica Watkins continued her physics research peering at foam microstructures not possible in Earth’s gravity through the KERMIT microscope to improve space research and down-to-Earth commercial opportunities.
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