The International Space Station’s 11 residents are comprised of three individual crews that arrived at the orbital outpost on three different crew ships. The most recent crew to arrive was SpaceX Crew-6 docking on Friday at 1:40 a.m. EST in the Crew Dragon Endeavour vehicle.
The four Crew-6 members are now Expedition 68 flight engineers embarking on a six-month space research mission. The new station crewmates are Stephen Bowen and Woody Hoburg of NASA along with Sultan Alneyadi of UAE (United Arab Emirates) and Andrey Fedyaev of Roscosmos. They are familiarizing themselves with station operations, systems, and emergency procedures.
The new quartet is also beginning standard science and maintenance activities. Bowen and Hoburg started a new experiment today conducting ultrasound scans and collecting blood pressure measurements to learn how an astronaut’s eyes, brain, and blood vessels change during a space mission. Alneyadi harvested tomatoes collecting them for both scientific analysis and crew consumption for the Veg-05 space botany study. Fedyaev wore a sensor-packed cap and practiced futuristic piloting techniques on a computer a crew member might use to control spacecraft or robots on planetary missions.
Another four crewmates are due to complete their station mission this month. Astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada of NASA, and Koichi Wakata of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), and cosmonaut Anna Kikina of Roscosmos, launched into space on Oct. 5 from the Kennedy Space Center and joined the Expedition 68 crew after docking on Oct. 6.
The homebound foursome is handing over their responsibilities to the station’s newest crew members as well as gathering cargo and personal items to take back to Earth inside Endurance. Mann and Wakata are also finalizing science work as they serviced a variety of research samples and replaced experiment hardware today. Mann also joined Cassada and tested and changed out orbital plumbing components. Kikina tested a specialized suit that may help crew members adapt quicker to the return to Earth’s gravity.
Station Commander Sergey Prokopyev has been on the orbiting lab since arriving on Sept. 21 aboard the Soyuz MS-22 crew ship with flight engineers Dmitri Petelin of Roscosmos and Frank Rubio of NASA. Prokopyev and Petelin spent Tuesday maintaining various electrical and life support systems. Rubio worked on human research throughout the day swapping samples in science freezers, photographing Bowen and Hoburg during their experiment work, and finally collecting blood specimens for stowage and analysis. The station trio are continuing their stay in space and will return to Earth later this year aboard the Soyuz MS-23 crew ship.
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