Crew Goes into Thanksgiving with Spacewalk and Dragon Preps

The waxing gibbous Moon is pictured from the space station as it orbited above the Indian Ocean southwest of Australia's island state of Tasmania.
The waxing gibbous Moon is pictured from the space station as it orbited above the Indian Ocean southwest of Australia’s island state of Tasmania.

Four Expedition 68 astronauts will relax on Thanksgiving day as three cosmonauts continue preparing for a spacewalk on Friday. The International Space Station residents are also expecting a space delivery this weekend bringing new roll-out solar arrays and science experiments.

Three NASA astronauts and one astronaut from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) spent Wednesday performing numerous research, cargo, and maintenance tasks. The quartet will also be off-duty the next day observing the U.S. holiday before going into a busy weekend.

NASA Flight Engineer Frank Rubio turned on the Ultrasound 2 device on Wednesday and scanned the leg, neck, and shoulder veins of JAXA Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata to observe the effects of microgravity on humans. Earlier, Rubio had partnered with fellow NASA astronaut Josh Cassada and inspected spacewalking tethers before participating in a NanoRacks botany experiment. Wakata checked ethernet connections inside the Columbus laboratory module.

Cassada began his day filming a demonstration showing how to measure the mass of everyday objects in weightlessness. Afterward, he unpacked cargo from the Cygnus space freighter that arrived on Nov. 9. NASA Flight Engineer Nicole Mann spent most of Wednesday working on life support maintenance in the Harmony module. She wrapped up her day organizing cargo that will be packed inside the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft for return to Earth after it arrives in a few days.

The Dragon resupply ship is attached to the top of the Falcon 9 rocket and is standing at the launch pad targeting a liftoff at 2:20 p.m. EST on Saturday from Kennedy Space Center. It will arrive on Sunday for an automated docking at 7:30 a.m. to the Harmony module’s space-facing port. Dragon will deliver a pair of new roll-out solar arrays, new space agriculture and biotechnology studies, and food, fuel, and crew supplies. NASA TV, on the agency’s app and website, begins its launch coverage at 2 p.m. on Saturday and docking coverage at 6 a.m. on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin are outfitting their Orlan spacesuits and checking them for leaks ahead of a spacewalk scheduled to begin at 6:15 a.m. on Friday. The duo will spend about seven hours on Friday relocating a radiator from the Rassvet module to the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module. Cosmonaut Anna Kikina readied the European robotic arm and practiced the robotics maneuvers today she will use to help the spacewalkers move the radiator at the end of the week.

Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

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