The seven-member Expedition 69 crew split up on Wednesday with four astronauts enjoying some time off and three cosmonauts staying busy with cargo transfers and lab maintenance. The astronauts did have some time for spacewalk safety training and preparations for the arrival of four private astronauts to the International Space Station.
NASA Flight Engineers Stephen Bowen and Woody Hoburg each put on a pair of virtual reality goggles on Friday and practiced controlling the jet packs attached to Extravehicular Mobility Units, or spacesuits. The jetpacks, also called SAFERs (Simplified Aid for EVA Rescue), would provide an astronaut the ability to maneuver back to the station in the unlikely event they became untethered during a spacewalk. The duo also reviewed the Enhanced Caution and Warning System that monitors the spacesuit’s condition including oxygen, water, and battery power levels.
UAE (United Arab Emirates) astronaut Sultan Alneyadi took Friday morning off then spent the afternoon reviewing procedures and training on a computer for the approach and docking of Axiom Mission-2 (Ax-2). He also set up computers in the seven-window cupola and the Destiny laboratory module that will support the monitoring of the Ax-2 mission’s arrival aboard the SpaceX Dragon Freedom crew ship.
The four Ax-2 private astronauts are scheduled to lift off aboard Freedom from Kennedy Space Center at 5:37 p.m. on Sunday and dock to the Harmony module’s space-facing port on Monday at 9:24 a.m. Ax-2 Commander Peggy Whitson will lead Pilot John Shoffner and Mission Specialists Ali Alqarni and Rayyanah Barnawi during the ride to the station for several days of research, outreach, and commercial activities before returning to Earth.
NASA Flight Engineer Frank Rubio had Friday off in anticipation of supporting the Ax-2 crew arrival next week, taking time out for a pair of workout sessions on the advanced resistive exercise device and the exercise cycle. Bowen and Hoburg also had a couple of hours of off-duty time in between their spacewalk safety training, installing extra sleeping units for the Ax-2 crew, and servicing combustion research hardware.
Commander Sergey Prokopyev, with assistance from Flight Engineer Andrey Fedyaev, continued cargo transfers from the ISS Progress 83 (83P) resupply ship docked to the Zvezda service module. The duo then split up the rest of the day for a variety of Roscosmos lab maintenance tasks. Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin spent his day configuring video and electronics gear before inspecting windows on the Nauka science module.
The space station is orbiting slightly higher after the 83P fired its engines for six minutes on Thursday. The orbital reboost raises the station to the correct altitude for the upcoming docking of the ISS Progress 84 resupply mission.
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