Spacewalk Preps Under Way During Multitude of Science Experiments

Astronauts Nicole Mann and Frank Rubio pose with their mission's insignia inside the cupola as the space station orbited above the Pacific Ocean.
Astronauts Nicole Mann and Frank Rubio pose with their mission’s insignia inside the cupola as the space station orbited above the Pacific Ocean.

Two Expedition 68 astronauts are preparing to exit the International Space Station on Wednesday and augment the orbiting lab’s power generation system. The duo from NASA, Frank Rubio and Josh Cassada, will spend about seven hours installing the station’s fourth roll-out solar array on the Port-4 (P4) truss structure.

Rubio and Cassada spent Tuesday gathering their tools and preparing the Quest airlock for the 12th spacewalk of 2022. The pair were joined for the spacewalk preparations by Flight Engineers Nicole Mann of NASA, Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and Commander Sergey Prokopyev from Roscosmos. The quintet gathered together and reviewed Wednesday’s spacewalk procedures, tools, and components then called down to specialists on the ground for a readiness conference.

Mann and Wakata also took turns studying on a computer the Canadarm2 robotic arm maneuvers necessary to support the NASA spacewalkers when they install the roll-out solar array on the P4. The two flight engineers will be at the robotics workstation commanding Canadarm2 and assisting the spacewalking duo during the fine-tuned installation job.

The pair also had time on Tuesday for microgravity research work. Mann watered dwarf tomatoes growing inside the Veggie facility for the Veg-05 space agriculture study. Wakata checked cable connections on the Cell Biology Experiment Facility, a specialized incubator with an artificial gravity generator housing research samples for a bone healing study.

Before Prokopyev assisted the spacewalking team today, he worked on electronics maintenance and orbital plumbing tasks. Roscosmos Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin assisted Prokopyev with the electronics work before studying advanced Earth photography techniques and exploring ways to pilot spacecraft and robots on future planetary missions. Flight Engineer Anna Kikina also worked on electronic component installations before checking radiation detection hardware and finally researching how international crews and mission controllers from around the world can improve communications.

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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