Science is doubling up on the International Space Station with the addition of three new space residents. However, they will split up on Oct. 21 before four more astronauts launch to join the Expedition 64 crew in November.
NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, on her second station mission, is stepping into her role as space scientist today while getting up to speed with life on orbit. She wore virtual reality goggles to explore how her sense of perception is adapting to microgravity. Rubins later serviced a biology research device that can produce up to 2g of artificial gravity.
Rubins’ fellow crewmates Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov will stay with her in space until April. Ryzhikov, on his second stay aboard the orbiting lab, unpacked cargo from the new Soyuz MS-17 crew ship today. First-time space-flyer Kud-Sverchkov checked out Russian science hardware.
Station Commander Chris Cassidy is nearing the end of his stay onboard the station with crewmates Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner. The trio have been packing cargo and personal items inside the Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft that will parachute the crew back to Earth on Oct. 21. Cassidy will hand over command of the station to Ryzhikov on Oct. 20.
All six station residents got together in the middle of the day and reviewed their emergency roles and responsibilities.
Meanwhile, four astronauts are planning to launch to the station aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle. The company’s first operational crew mission is targeted to launch no sooner than early-to-mid November. Commander Mike Hopkins of NASA will lead Pilot Victor Glover and Mission Specialists Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi and stay in space until the Spring.