Crew Gets Ready for Spacewalk and Dragon Departure This Week

Cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov is pictured during a spacewalk on Sept. 3, 2021, to begin outfitting Russia's Nauka multipurpose laboratory module.
Cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov is pictured during a spacewalk on Sept. 3, 2021, to begin outfitting Russia’s Nauka multipurpose laboratory module.

The Expedition 66 crew is getting ready for a spacewalk on Wednesday while packing a U.S. resupply ship for its departure on Friday. Meanwhile, the International Space Station also hosted a pair of space biology studies exploring exercise and vision.

Cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov finalized their preparations today for the first spacewalk of 2022 set to begin at 7 a.m. EST on Wednesday. The duo completed reviewing the procedures they will use during the seven-hour spacewalk to outfit Russia’s new Nauka and Prichal modules. They will wear their Russian Orlan spacesuits and exit the Poisk module’s airlock at 7 a.m. where their spacewalking gear is staged.  NASA TV, on the NASA app and the agency’s website, will broadcast the space activities live beginning at 6 a.m.

Three NASA astronauts continued loading the SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle ahead of its undocking on Friday at 10:40 a.m. Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei and Raja Chari started the loading after lunch time, before NASA astronaut Thomas Marshburn joined them at the end of the day to help organize and secure the cargo.

Marshburn, along with astronaut Matthias Maurer from ESA (European Space Agency), also participated in an workout session on the exercise cycle located in the U.S. Destiny laboratory module. The duo took turns pedaling for an hour each wearing monitors that measured their heart rate for a human research study.

Maurer then joined NASA Flight Engineer Kayla Barron for the rest of the day inside the Kibo laboratory module for a vision investigation. The pair conducted the research operations using the Life Science Glovebox to understand how a long-term space mission affects an astronaut’s visual function and to promote eye health on Earth.

Axiom Mission 1, the first private astronaut mission to the International Space Station, is now targeting to launch March 31 to account for additional spacecraft preparations and space station traffic. Once aboard the orbiting laboratory, the four-person Axiom Space crew will conduct science, outreach, and commercial activities for eight days before their return to Earth.


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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Week Ends With Spacesuit Checks, Dragon Packing and Eye Exams

Cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov is pictured during a spacewalk on Sept. 3, 2021, to begin outfitting the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module.
Cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov is pictured during a spacewalk on Sept. 3, 2021, to begin outfitting the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module.

The Expedition 66 crew is wrapping up the work week continuing its Russian spacewalk preparations while packing a U.S. resupply ship for departure next week. The orbital residents also had time set aside for eye checks and science hardware work.

The SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle is due to complete its mission at the International Space Station on Jan. 21 after 30 days docked to the Harmony module’s space-facing port. NASA Flight Engineers Raja Chari and Thomas Marshburn began Friday loading up the Dragon with a variety of cargo that will be returned to Earth one day after the vehicle’s undocking. ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer assisted the duo in the afternoon organizing and securing the cargo inside the U.S. commercial cargo craft.

Chari and Maurer also led a pair of eye checks aboard the orbiting lab on Friday afternoon with NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei as the subject. Maurer started the first exam scanning Vande Hei’s eye with the Ultrasound 2 device. Following that, Chari looked at the veteran astronaut’s retinas using standard medical imaging gear, optical coherence tomography, that can be found inside a doctor’s office.

NASA Flight Engineer Kayla Barron spent Friday working on experiment hardware throughout the space station’s U.S. segment. She started the morning retrieving research components exposed to the harsh environment of space from inside the Kibo laboratory module’s airlock. During the afternoon, Barron began setting up and photographing science gear in several station modules to prepare for upcoming research.

Cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov spent the last day of the week trying on their Russian Orlan spacesuits, checking for pressure leaks and testing their communication systems. They will exit the Poisk module on Jan. 19 for a seven hour spacewalk to outfit and configure the Prichal and Nauka modules.


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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Busy Day for Biology Research as Spacewalk Preps Continue

Astronauts Kayla Barron and Matthias Maurer participate in a robotics training session inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module.
Astronauts Kayla Barron and Matthias Maurer participate in a robotics training session inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module.

Space biology research and spacewalk preparations kept the Expedition 66 crew busy aboard the International Space Station on Thursday. The orbital residents also ensured space hardware including exercise gear, a specialized microscope, and fluid systems continued operating in tip-top shape.

Living long-term in microgravity affects every aspect of the human body and the eyes are no exception. A study recently delivered aboard the SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle and under way today at the orbital lab is exploring how visual function is impacted by extended space missions. Three NASA astronauts, Raja Chari, Thomas Marshburn, and Kayla Barron were on duty throughout the day contributing to the investigation that may protect astronaut’s vision and improve eye treatments on Earth.

Marshburn first started his day in the Tranquility module strengthening cables on the advanced resistive exercise device. Chari, toward the end of his work shift, cleaned the Veggie space botany facility before uninstalling and packing a spacecraft atmosphere monitor for return to the ground.

Microbe collections continued for the third day this week as ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer swabbed station surfaces and stowed the samples for later analysis. The German astronaut also serviced the Mochii electron-scanning microscope, set up a computer for Earth observations, and worked on the Cytoskeleton human cell experiment.

NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei was on duty Thursday afternoon in the U.S. Destiny laboratory module conducting life support maintenance. The three-time station visitor worked on the fluid servicer system that removes gas bubbles and cleans fluid lines throughout the orbital lab.

Vande Hei also joined cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov helping the Russian duo install lights, batteries and video gear on their Orlan spacesuit helmets. The pair started the day with a physical fitness test to prepare for a spacewalk planned for Jan. 19. They will spend about seven hours in the vacuum of space configuring both the Prichal and Nauka modules.


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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Cosmonauts Prep for Spacewalk as Astronauts Work Science and Maintenance

NASA astronaut Thomas Marshburn peers out from a window inside the cupola, the International Space Station's "window to the world."
NASA astronaut Thomas Marshburn peers out from a window inside the cupola, the International Space Station’s “window to the world.”

In one week the first spacewalk of 2022 is set begin at the International Space Station. Two Expedition 66 crew members are getting their spacesuits ready as the rest of the crew works research and maintenance.

Station Commander Anton Shkaplerov and Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov are due to exit the Poisk module in their Russian Orlan spacesuits on Jan. 19 at 7 a.m. EDT. They will spend about seven hours configuring both the Prichal docking module and the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module in the vacuum of space.

Both cosmonauts continued setting up and attaching components to their spacesuits on Wednesday. NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei, who will assist the spacewalkers next week, joined the pair during the afternoon and reviewed the Poisk airlock depressurization/repressurization timeline.

The station’s other crew members focused on space physics, life science and lab maintenance. NASA Flight Engineer Raja Chari started his day working on hardware maintenance for the Ring Sheared Drop experiment then took a robotics test for a behavioral study. Astronaut Matthias Maurer of ESA (European Space Agency) continued collecting microbe samples swabbed from station surfaces for analysis.

NASA astronaut Kayla Barron collected microbe samples from the station’s atmosphere then took samples from a carbon dioxide removal system for analysis. At the end of the day, Vande Hei gathered equipment ahead of operations planned for station fluid systems.


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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Dragon Checks, Biology and Spacewalk Preps Fill Crew Day

The SpaceX Cargo Dragon approaches the station on Dec. 22. The SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour can be seen docked to the Harmony module's forward port.
The SpaceX Cargo Dragon approaches the station on Dec. 22. The SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour can be seen docked to the Harmony module’s forward port.

Crew Dragon proficiency checks were on the schedule for a pair of NASA astronauts aboard the International Space Station on Tuesday. Eye checks, space biology research, and spacewalk preparations also kept the Expedition 66 crew busy throughout the day.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour, which delivered four astronauts to the orbiting lab, has been docked to the Harmony module’s forward port since Nov. 11, 2021. The Crew Dragon’s commander and pilot, Raja Chari and Thomas Marshburn, both station flight engineers, practiced and familiarized themselves with deorbit and landing procedures in Endeavour today. The duo will return to Earth, along with Kayla Barron of NASA and Matthias Maurer of ESA (European Space Agency), aboard the Crew Dragon in the spring.

Chari and Barron earlier joined each other Tuesday morning for vein scans. Chari took charge as crew medical officer and scanned the veins in Barron’s neck, shoulder and legs with the Ultrasound 2 device. Chari later partnered with Marshburn for eye checks and retina scans using medical imaging gear. Doctors on the ground monitored the vein and eye scans in real time. The regularly scheduled health checks provide researchers insight into how microgravity affects the human body long term.

NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei documented his meals today to understand how nutrition affects space health. The veteran astronaut, who will be on the station for nearly a year, also serviced a variety of science hardware to ensure ongoing research operations. Maurer continued setting up the Cytoskeleton space biology study that will explore how the human cell’s internal machinery adapts to weightlessness. The ESA astronaut later assisted Chari and Barron with retinal scans then stowing the eye imaging gear.

Cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov are moving right along with their preparations for a spacewalk planned for Jan. 19. The pair from Roscosmos continued collecting and organizing the spacewalk tools they will use to finish configuring and connecting Nauka multipurpose laboratory module to the station’s Russian segment. They are scheduled to work for seven-and-a-half hours outside in the vacuum of space inside their Russian Orlan spacesuits.


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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Station Residents Wrap Up 2021 With Spacesuits and Dragon Work

This mosaic depicts the space station pictured from the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour on Nov. 8, 2021.
This mosaic depicts the space station pictured from the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour on Nov. 8, 2021.

The astronauts and cosmonauts of Expedition 66 worked throughout Wednesday on U.S. and Russian spacesuits. The orbital residents will also end 2021 working on life science and cargo operations aboard the International Space Station.

Among the 6,500 pounds of cargo delivered aboard the SpaceX Cargo Dragon on Dec. 22 were a U.S. spacesuit and other spacewalking gear. NASA Flight Engineers Kayla Barron and Thomas Marshburn removed the new spacesuit from Dragon on Wednesday then installed communications gear and configured it. The duo also packed an older U.S. spacesuit inside the Cargo Dragon for return to Earth in January. The next U.S. spacewalk is targeted for spring when two astronauts will install a third set of roll-out solar arrays on the orbiting lab.

Russian spacewalks are also planned at the station in 2022 to outfit the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module that arrived in July. Cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov began reviewing procedures today for the upcoming excursions when they will configure Nauka to operate with the rest of the space station. The pair from Roscosmos also started organizing Russian Orlan spacesuit components and spacewalking tools.

The last days of 2021 will see the station crew move headlong into a variety of space biology research. The astronauts have already begun initiating some of the nearly 2,500 pounds of science experiments and research gear delivered in Dragon. Barron and Marshburn will start observing mice on Thursday to understand how microgravity affects the visual function. ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer has already started the new Cytoskeleton experiment and will work on it the rest of the week to study how the human cell adapts to weightlessness.

Orbital maintenance is critical to ensure ongoing and safe station operations. NASA Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei and Raja Chari will focus on that work the rest of the week. Vande Hei will be configuring different research hardware while also assisting the cosmonauts with their Russian spacesuit work. Chari will spend the next few days unpacking the Cargo Dragon and work on station life support and plumbing tasks.

The space station blog is taking a short break until Monday, Jan. 3, as the station’s five astronauts and two cosmonauts orbit Earth into the New Year.


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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Crew Unpacks Cargo Dragon and Starts New Space Research

The Prichal, pictured still attached to the Progress delivery vehicle, is docked to the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module as the station orbited into a sunrise.
The Prichal, pictured still attached to the Progress delivery vehicle, is docked to the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module as the station orbited into a sunrise.

The Expedition 66 crew members continue unpacking the SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle and initiating brand new microgravity investigations. Some of the new science taking place aboard the International Space Station today is looking at plant genetics, human cellular function, and even space laundry techniques.

The four NASA astronauts living on the orbital lab took turns on Tuesday offloading some of the 6,500 pounds of new crew supplies, station hardware, and science experiments. Flight Engineer Kayla Barron began her morning working inside the Cargo Dragon. She then serviced samples inside the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace, a research device that observes the thermophysical properties of high temperature materials.

Astronauts Mark Vande Hei, Thomas Marshburn and Raja Chari got together on Tuesday afternoon to unpack the Cargo Dragon as well. Vande Hei and Marshburn have also begun work on a pair of new experiments exploring how to improve life in space. Vande Hei is testing detergent samples to learn how to keep clothes clean in a variety of gravity environments during long-term space missions. Marshburn set up the Veggie botany research facility for observing plant growth at the genetic level to promote space agriculture. Chari collected and spun his blood samples in a centrifuge then stowed them for later analysis. Afterward, Chari entered the Columbus laboratory module and began organizing cargo packed inside.

Flight Engineer Matthias Maurer of ESA (European Space Agency) collected research hardware from inside Columbus for a space biology investigation. He then began assembling that gear and thawing culture chambers inside the Kibo laboratory module. The work is for the new Cytoskeleton biology study, taking place in the Life Science Glovebox, and will explore how the machinery of the human cell is impacted by weightlessness.

Cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov, along with Vande Hei, started their day practicing emergency evacuation procedures. The trio trained on a computer for the procedures they would use in the unlikely event they would have to quickly board the Soyuz MS-19 crew ship, undock and return to Earth. Shkaplerov then unpacked Russian spacewalk gear delivered recently aboard the Prichal docking module. Dubrov focused on electronics and hardware maintenance for the rest of the day.


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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