The Expedition 67 crew is in the midst of a crew swap as three new flight engineers adapt to life in space and another crew prepares to go home this week. Meanwhile, with 10 people living aboard the International Space Station today there were plenty of opportunities to keep up ongoing microgravity research and lab maintenance.
New Flight Engineer Frank Rubio from NASA was back on space physics today installing hardware for the Intelligent Glass Optics study inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox. The investigation explores using artificial intelligence to adapt materials manufacturing, such as fiber optics, to the vacuum of space. His two cosmonaut partners, flight engineers Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin of Roscosmos, spent time unloading their Soyuz MS-22 crew ship and working on a variety of life support tasks. The duo also took turns studying ways to pilot spacecraft and robots on future planetary missions.
Station Commander Oleg Artemyev is turning his attention to this week’s return to Earth with Roscosmos Flight Engineers Denis Matveev and Sergey Korsakov. The trio will board their Soyuz MS-21 crew ship and undock from the Prichal module at 3:34 a.m. EDT on Thursday. They will descend into Earth’s atmosphere and parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan less than three-and-a-half hours later completing a six-month space research mission.
Artemyev will hand over station leadership responsibilities to ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti on Wednesday. The traditional Change of Command ceremony starts at 9:35 a.m. EDT live on NASA TV, the agency’s app and its website.
Cristoforetti will lead the new Expedition 68 crew until she and three of her SpaceX Crew Dragon Freedom crewmates depart the space station in October. She joined NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines, and Jessica Watkins today and reviewed their Dragon descent procedures with flight controllers on Earth. The quartet have been aboard the station since their arrival inside Freedom on April 27.
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