The workweek wrapped up with the Expedition 68 crew working on botany and physics hardware aboard the International Space Station. Spacesuit maintenance is still proceeding as the astronauts and cosmonauts continue preparing for more spacewalks before the end of the year.
Growing fresh food off the Earth is a key mission objective as NASA and its international partners plan longer human missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. NASA Flight Engineer Josh Cassada spent all day on Friday configuring hardware and installing components on the Veggie space botany facility located in the Columbus laboratory module. Soon the plant growth unit will host a small crop of dwarf tomatoes growing for the Veg-05 study investigating ways to maintain a continuous fresh-food production system in space.
NASA Flight Engineer Frank Rubio was working in the Microgravity Science Glovebox at the end of the day exchanging samples for a fluid physics study. The investigation explores the coarsening and coalescence of foams in weightlessness with potential applications for the firefighting, petroleum, and medicine industries among others.
Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) took turns with Rubio on Friday collecting blood and urine samples, processing them, then stowing them in science freezers for later examination. Wakata also cleaned and serviced components inside the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace, an experimental facility that enables safe research of high temperature physics above 2,000 degrees Celsius.
Several more spacewalks are scheduled before the end of the year. The first is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 14, and a second for Dec. 19. Both spacewalks will be broadcast live on NASA TV, on the agency’s app and website.
NASA Flight Engineer Nicole Mann was back on spacesuit duty on Friday removing and replacing life support components inside the Extravehicular Mobility Units, or EMUs. She later removed a small satellite deployer from inside the Kibo laboratory module’s airlock.
Commander Sergey Prokopyev and Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin partnered once again checking their Orlan spacesuits for leaks and reviewing procedures for the Dec. 14 spacewalk. The duo also took turns working out on the station’s exercise bike while attached to sensors for a fitness evaluation. Flight Engineer Anna Kikina wrapped up her week transferring water and repressurizing nitrogen from the docked ISS Progress 82 resupply ship to tanks aboard the space station.
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