The Expedition 69 crew is gearing up for cargo and crew vehicles headed to the International Space Station this week. The seven orbital residents are also continuing critical space research while preparing for September’s crew departure activities.
An extra port on the orbital outpost is open following the departure of the Roscosmos Progress 83 cargo craft on Sunday. It will be replaced by the Roscosmos Progress 85 cargo craft after it launches at 9:08 p.m. EDT on Tuesday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The Progress 85 will dock at 11:50 p.m. on Thursday to the port left vacant by the Progress 83 on the aft end of the Zvezda service module.
Commander Sergey Prokopyev joined Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin on Monday training for the 85P’s arrival. The duo from Roscosmos practiced using the telerobotically operated rendezvous unit, or TORU, located in Zvezda. A cosmonaut would use the TORU to remotely control an arriving spacecraft in the unlikely event the approaching vehicle was unable to automatically dock.
Four Commercial Crew members are at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center counting down to their launch to the orbital lab at 3:49 a.m. EDT on Friday. NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli will command SpaceX Crew-7 Pilot Andreas Mogensen of ESA (European Space Agency), and Mission Specialists Satoshi Furukawa of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) and Konstantin Borisov of Roscosmos during their ride to the orbital lab. The quartet, inside the SpaceX Dragon Endurance spacecraft, will dock to the Harmony module’s space-facing port at 2:02 a.m. on Saturday.
One week after the arrival of the SpaceX Crew-7 mission, four Expedition 69 crewmates will return to Earth aboard the SpaceX Dragon Endeavour spacecraft. NASA astronaut Stephen Bowen will lead Woody Hoburg of NASA, Sultan Alneyadi of UAE (United Arab Emirates), and Andrey Fedyaev of Roscosmos when they undock from Harmony’s forward port in Endeavour on Sept. 1 and splash down off the coast of Florida about 24 hours later.
The soon-to-be departing quartet reviewed their departure activities and Dragon deorbit procedures on computer tablets at the end of the day on Monday. Bowen, Hoburg, and Alneyadi also tried on specialized garments, also known as orthostatic intolerance garments, that will help their bodies re-adapt to Earth’s gravity shortly after returning. The foursome launched to the station as the SpaceX Crew-6 mission on March 2, docked the following day, entered the station, and became Expedition 68-69 flight engineers.
Petelin and Fedyaev tested their own version of a suit, called the lower body negative pressure suit, that helps crew members readjust to Earth’s gravity environment. The cosmonauts are evaluating the unique suit for its potential to redistribute fluids that have pooled in the upper body, due to microgravity, toward the lower body.
Even amid the upcoming mission activities, microgravity science was underway aboard the orbital lab. NASA Flight Engineer Frank Rubio worked on science hardware throughout Monday, first reconfiguring the Cell Biology Experiment Facility, a biology research incubator. Afterward, he swapped out more graphene aerogel samples in the Microgravity Science Glovebox for a space manufacturing study. Alneyadi set up the Neuronix gene therapy study in the Life Science Glovebox to begin exploring potential therapies for diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
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