Spacewalk Postponed to Thursday, Managers Discuss Soyuz Leak Inquiry

NASA astronauts (from left) Frank Rubio and Josh Cassada will conduct their third spacewalk together and install the space station's fourth roll-out solar array.
NASA astronauts (from left) Frank Rubio and Josh Cassada will conduct their third spacewalk together and install the space station’s fourth roll-out solar array.

NASA astronauts Frank Rubio and Josh Cassada are now scheduled to begin a spacewalk at 8:30 a.m. EST Thursday to augment the International Space Station’s power generation system. Wednesday’s spacewalk was postponed for 24 hours so that the orbiting lab’s ISS Progress 81 cargo craft could fire its engines at 8:42 a.m. to maneuver the station and avoid an approaching piece of rocket debris.

Spacewalkers Rubio and Cassada will install another roll-out solar array, also known as an International Space Station Roll-Out Solar Array (iROSA), on the space station’s truss structure. This time the duo will maneuver to the opposite side of the station and install the fourth iROSA on the Port-4 truss structure. The external installation job will last about seven hours and broadcast live on NASA TV on the agency’s app and its website.

Expedition 68 Flight Engineers Nicole Mann of NASA and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will operate the Canadarm2 robotic arm to support the spacewalkers during the fine-tuned iROSA installation job. The duo will also assist Rubio and Cassada in and out of their spacesuits, also known as Extravehicular Mobility Units (EMUs), in the Quest airlock before and after their spacewalk.

While Thursday’s spacewalk is under way, NASA space station program manager Joel Montalbano and Roscosmos human spaceflight executive director Sergei Krikalev will hold an audio-only media teleconference 11 a.m. The two space executives will discuss the ongoing investigation of an external leak detected on the Soyuz MS-22 crew ship on a live audio call streaming on NASA’s website at https://www.nasa.gov/live.

The three cosmonauts representing Expedition 68, Commander Sergey Prokopyev and Flight Engineers Dmitri Petelin and Anna Kikina, stayed focused on lab maintenance servicing and cleaning a variety station hardware today.


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Astronauts Prepare to Grow Tomatoes, Get Ready for Spacewalk

Astronauts (from top) Frank Rubio and Josh Cassada work on a pair of Extravehicular Mobility Units (EMUs), or spacesuits, inside the space station's Quest airlock.
Astronauts (from top) Frank Rubio and Josh Cassada work on a pair of Extravehicular Mobility Units (EMUs), or spacesuits, inside the space station’s Quest airlock.

The Expedition 68 crew began installing a new space botany experiment today while gearing up for a spacewalk planned for this weekend. The orbital residents are also continuing their research into the nervous system, unpacking a U.S. cargo craft, and keeping up International Space Station systems.

NASA and its international partners have been learning how to grow fresh food on the orbiting lab for several years. Today, NASA Flight Engineer Nicole Mann began installing the new Veg-05 space agriculture study that will soon grow dwarf tomatoes with the astronauts testing fertilizer techniques, microbial food safety, nutritional value, and taste. Growing fresh food during future missions farther away from Earth may promote crew morale and reduce crew dependency on space cargo missions.

Veteran station astronaut Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) serviced microbe samples being observed for the Neural Integration System biotechnology experiment. Wakata fed the microbes inside the Cell Biology Experiment Facility, a specialized incubator with an artificial gravity generator, for the study that may provide insights into neuromuscular conditions such as Parkinson’s disease.

Mann and Wakata later joined NASA astronauts Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio and continued preparing for a spacewalk planned to start at 7:25 a.m. EST on Saturday. The quartet reviewed the steps Cassada and Rubio will use to install a roll-out solar array on the station’s Starboard- 4 truss segment during the seven-hour excursion. Mann and Wakata will be inside the station supporting the duo before, during, and after the spacewalk.

The roll-out-solar array, also known as an International Space Station Roll-Out Solar Array, or iROSA, was extracted from inside the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship’s unpressurized trunk by ground controllers remotely commanding the Canadarm2 robotic arm. The iROSA was then placed on a starboard truss structure attachment point. From there, the spacewalkers will retrieve the roll-out solar array on Saturday and install it on the starboard truss segment. The new iROSA is augmenting the space station’s power generation system.

The space station’s three cosmonauts spent Thursday servicing a variety of life support hardware and space station gear. Roscosmos Commander Sergey Prokopyev began the day checking cameras and their components before cleaning the Zvezda service module’s ventilation system. Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin completed his 24-hour heart monitoring activity on Thursday morning then worked on Ethernet cable connections and orbital plumbing gear. Flight Engineer Anna Kikina spent the day maintaining an assortment of station systems and their components ensuring the orbiting lab operates in tip-top shape.


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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Life Science, Spacewalk Preps as Station Orbits Higher

Astronaut Nicole Mann is pictured inside the seven-window cupola as the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft approaches the space station on Nov. 27, 2022.
Astronaut Nicole Mann is pictured inside the seven-window cupola as the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft approaches the space station on Nov. 27, 2022.

Science and spacewalk preparations kept the Expedition 68 crew busy throughout Wednesday. Meanwhile, the International Space Station is orbiting slightly higher after a docked cargo craft fired its engines during the morning.

NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Frank Rubio began the morning cleaning and stowing biology hardware used to transfer research samples from the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship into the space station’s U.S. Destiny laboratory module. Those samples will soon be examined to understand how microgravity affects the regeneration of skeletal stem cells possibly improving therapies for bone conditions on Earth and in space.

NASA Flight Engineer Josh Cassada started his day supporting student-designed botany experiments packed inside specialized tubes delivered aboard Dragon. Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) peered at microscopic worms inside the Confocal microscope for deeper insight into how the nervous system adapts to weightlessness. Observations may help doctors keep astronauts healthy in space and design therapies for neuromuscular diseases such as Parkinson’s.

After working on advanced science experiments during the morning, all four astronauts joined each other and reviewed plans for Saturday’s spacewalk set to start at 7:25 a.m. EST. Cassada and Rubio will exit the station for a seven-hour job to install a new roll-out solar array on the station’s starboard truss structure. Mann and Wakata will support the duo in and out of their Extravehicular Mobility Units (EMUs), or spacesuits, and operate the Canadarm2 robotic arm during the spacewalk.

Station Commander Sergey Prokopyev from Roscosmos worked inside the Zvezda service module replacing life support gear on Wednesday afternoon after completing a heart-monitoring session during the morning. Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin continued the heart research and attached sensors to himself to monitor his cardiac activity and blood pressure for 24 hours. Petelin then spent the rest of the day cleaning hydraulic components inside a Russian Orlan spacesuit. Flight Engineer Anna Kikina analyzed the Zarya module’s power supply system using an oscilloscope and infrared camera before conducting ventilation maintenance inside Zvezda.

A docked ISS Progress 81 space freighter fired its engines for 12 minutes early Wednesday raising the station’s altitude. The orbital reboost places the station at the correct altitude for an upcoming crew swap planned for early spring.


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U.S. Cargo Rocket at Launch Pad as Crew Works Science, Exercise Gear

Northrop Grumman's Antares rocket carrying the Cygnus space freighter rolls out to the launchpad at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Credit: NASA/Brian Bonsteel
Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket carrying the Cygnus space freighter rolls out to the launchpad at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Credit: NASA/Brian Bonsteel

The Antares rocket carrying the Cygnus space freighter has rolled out to the launchpad in Virginia counting down to its launch toward the International Space Station. While the Expedition 68 crew members await the new cargo mission, they studied blood flow to the brain, inspected space exercise gear, and prepared for future spacewalks.

Northrop Grumman’s next cargo mission is due to launch to the orbiting lab from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on Sunday at 5:50 a.m. EST. The company’s Cygnus resupply ship, atop its Antares rocket booster, is loaded with about 8,200 pounds of crew supplies and station hardware, including new microgravity experiments benefitting humans on and off the Earth.

NASA Flight Engineers Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada will be at the robotics controls ready to capture Cygnus with the Canadarm2 robotic arm when it arrives at 5:50 a.m. on Tuesday. Both astronauts have been preparing for the Cygnus mission reviewing and practicing robotic capture maneuvers on a computer. Mann will command the Canadarm2 to capture Cygnus, while Cassada backs her up monitoring its approach and rendezvous.

Mann started her day attaching sensors to herself and researching how the brain regulates blood flow in weightlessness. Observations may help crew members adjust quicker when returning to Earth’s gravity and provide insights into blood pressure conditions. Afterward, Mann joined Cassada and inspected the station’s COLBERT treadmill located in the Tranquility module which enables astronauts to maintain musculoskeletal and cardiovascular health in space.

Astronauts Frank Rubio of NASA and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) partnered together on Wednesday servicing spacesuits in the Quest airlock. The duo cleaned the suits’ cooling loops, performed leak checks, and examined a variety of suit components. Rubio later rearranged the Unity module to make space for the arriving Cygnus cargo, while Wakata cleaned up the XROOTS space botany facility following this week’s tomato and pea harvest.

Two cosmonauts are reviewing procedures for upcoming spacewalks before the end of the year. Commander Sergey Prokopyev and Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin spent a few hours today training to exit the station in their Orlan spacesuits and continue outfitting and readying the European robotic arm for future payload operations. Roscosmos Flight Engineer Anna Kikina spent her day on life support and electronics maintenance while practicing advanced Earth photography techniques.


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 Readies Cygnus for Departure, Studies Botany and Cardiac Research

An aurora streams above a cloudy Earth as the International Space Station orbited 268 miles above the south Pacific.
An aurora streams above a cloudy Earth as the International Space Station orbited 268 miles above the south Pacific.

A U.S. resupply ship is being prepared for its departure from the International Space Station on Tuesday morning. Meanwhile, the Expedition 67 crew continued its space gardening and human research activities today to promote mission success and improve health on Earth.

NASA astronauts Bob Hines and Jessica Watkins spent Monday wrapping up cargo operations inside the Cygnus space freighter from Northrop Grumman. ESA (European Space Agency) Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti joined the pair disconnecting power and ventilation systems and finally closing the vehicle’s hatch.

Cygnus will be detached from the Unity module overnight by the Canadarm2 robotic arm remotely controlled by engineers on the ground.  The Canadarm2 will maneuver Cygnus away from the station and release the cargo craft at 6:05 a.m. EDT completing a four-month stay at the orbital lab. NASA TV starts its live Cygnus release coverage at 5:45 a.m. on Tuesday on the agency’s app and its website.

Hines finished his work day servicing oxygen components on a U.S. spacesuit. Watkins and Cristoforetti also partnered together and filmed station operations to train future crews preparing for upcoming missions to the orbiting complex. Watkins later setup camera gear that students on Earth can operate remotely and photograph landmarks on the ground. Finally, Cristoforetti swapped batteries inside the Astrobee robotic free-flyers and worked on NanoRacks Bishop airlock maintenance.

Advanced space research is always ongoing amidst the constant array of visiting vehicles and other mission activities taking place at the orbital lab. Monday’s science experiments mainly focused on growing plants without soil, cardiac research, and Earth observations.

NASA Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren kicked off another plant growing session for the XROOTS space botany study. He set up seed cartridges and root modules for the experiment to demonstrate using hydroponic and aeroponic techniques to grow edible plants in microgravity. Growing crops in space can reduce costly cargo missions and help sustain crews as NASA and its international partners plan missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

Roscosmos cosmonauts Denis Matveev and Sergey Korsakov worked on cardiac research today exploring how the human circulatory system adapts to weightlessness. Matveev later worked on nanosatellites to be deployed on an upcoming Russian spacewalk. Korsakov also conducted ear, nose, and throat research. Commander Oleg Artemyev worked on Russian maintenance activities and later filmed station operations for audiences on 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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Starliner Fires Engines, Returning to Earth for Landing

Boeing's Starliner crew ship approaches the space station on the company's Orbital Flight Test-2 mission on May 20, 2022.
Boeing’s Starliner crew ship approaches the space station on the company’s Orbital Flight Test-2 mission on May 20, 2022.

NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website continue to provide live coverage of the landing of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft.

At 6:05 p.m. EDT, the spacecraft began its deorbit burn that puts Starliner on the right path to land at 6:49 p.m. White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico. The service module has successfully separated from the crew module containing Rosie the rocketeer, an anthropometric test device who will help maintain Starliner’s center of gravity from ascent through landing. During OFT-1, Rosie was outfitted with 15 sensors to collect data on what astronauts will experience during flights on Starliner.

At 6:44 p.m. the drogue parachute will be released, pulling out the spacecraft’s three main parachutes at 6:45 p.m. that will slow the capsule to a safe landing on Earth.


More details about the mission and NASA’s commercial crew program can be found by following the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.

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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Starliner Launching Thursday, Crew Works Science and Medical Training

Boeing's Starliner spacecraft, atop the United Launch Alliance Atlas-V rocket, arrives at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station launch pad in Florida. Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky
Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft, atop the United Launch Alliance Atlas-V rocket, arrives at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station launch pad in Florida. Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

UPDATE (7 p.m. EDT): During Wednesday evening’s daily planning conference, the International Space Station crew was notified of a possible conjunction with orbital debris late Thursday, May 19. Flight control teams in Houston are assessing options for a potential debris avoidance maneuver on Thursday, pending additional tracking data on the debris expected overnight. Initial plans for an avoidance maneuver would not impact the launch of NASA’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 mission, scheduled to liftoff at 6:54 p.m. EDT on Thursday, May 19, but might slightly alter the timing of some of the rendezvous maneuvers leading to Starliner’s docking to the station. The crew began its sleep shift as scheduled and will resume preparations for the Friday arrival of OFT-2 when it awakens about 2 a.m. Thursday.

Boeing’s Starliner crew ship sits atop the Atlas-V rocket from United Launch Alliance counting down to its launch from Florida to the International Space Station on Thursday. Meanwhile, the Expedition 67 crew concentrated on medical training, exercise systems maintenance, and a variety of advanced space science on Wednesday.

Two NASA astronauts continued preparing for the arrival of Boeing’s uncrewed Starliner spaceship on the company’s Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission. Flight Engineers Kjell Lindgren and Bob Hines reviewed Starliner systems and approach and rendezvous procedures ahead of the spacecraft’s automated docking to the Harmony module’s forward port at 7:10 p.m. EDT on Friday. The uncrewed spacecraft is targeted to launch at 6:54 p.m. on Thursday from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The duo will be on duty Friday monitoring Starliner during its three-and-a-half hours of automated approach maneuvers.

Lindgren started his day servicing the advanced resistive exercise device which mimics free weight exercises in microgravity. Hines collected and stowed his urine samples in a science freezer for later analysis to understand the long-term effects of weightlessness on the human body.

Flight Engineers Jessica Watkins of NASA and Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA (European Space Agency) worked on a variety of orbital plumbing tasks during Wednesday morning. Watkins also wrapped up a blood pressure measurement session and prepared the health data for downlinking to doctors on Earth. Cristoforetti trained on a computer to increase her proficiency when commanding the Canadarm2 robotic arm.

The quartet also joined Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev, and Sergey Korsakov, for a medical emergency training session on Wednesday. The four astronauts and three cosmonauts practiced cardiopulmonary resuscitation, reviewed medical hardware, and discussed coordination of care in the event of an emergency on the space station.

Artemyev, the commander of the orbiting lab, also tested using ultrasound sensors for more accurate Earth photography sessions. The veteran cosmonaut then studied ways to improve international coordination between space crews and mission controllers. Matveev joined Artemyev participating in the photography tests and the crew coordination study. Korsakov inventoried and stowed medical gear and also inspected and photographed windows in the Zvezda service module.


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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Cygnus Nears Station for Capture Live on NASA TV Now

The Cygnus space freighter's cymbal-shaped solar arrays are pictured in this photograph taken from the space station in August of 2021.
The Cygnus space freighter’s cymbal-shaped solar arrays are pictured in this photograph taken from the space station in August of 2021.

NASA television is underway for the capture of Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft which launched Saturday at 12:40 p.m. on an Antares rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia. At about 4:35 a.m., NASA astronaut Raja Chari will capture Cygnus, with NASA astronaut Kayla Barron acting as backup. After Cygnus capture, mission control in Houston will send ground commands for the station’s arm to rotate and install it on the station’s Unity module Earth-facing port.

This is Northrop Grumman’s 17th commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station for NASA. The Cygnus spacecraft is carrying a fresh supply of 8,300 pounds of scientific investigations and cargo to the orbiting laboratory.

This Cygnus mission is the first to feature enhanced capabilities that will allow the spacecraft to perform a reboost, using its engines to adjust the space station’s orbit as a standard service for NASA. The agency has one reboost is planned while Cygnus is connected to the orbiting laboratory. A test of the maneuver was performed in 2018 during Cygnus’ ninth resupply mission.

The Cygnus spacecraft is named the S.S. Piers Sellers in honor of the late NASA astronaut who spent nearly 35 days across three missions helping to construct the space station.


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 Awaits New Docking Module During Human Research and Space Physics

The Russian rocket with the Prichal docking module atop stands vertical at the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch pad in Kazakhstan. Credit: Roscosmos
The Russian rocket with the Prichal docking module atop stands vertical at the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch pad in Kazakhstan. Credit: Roscosmos

The International Space Station is gearing up for a new Russian docking module due to arrive on Friday. In the meantime, the Expedition 66 residents focused on a variety of human research and space physics aboard the orbital lab today.

Russia’s newest docking port, the Prichal module, sits atop a rocket at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan counting down to a launch on Wednesday at 8:06 a.m. EST. It will arrive at the station on Friday where it will automatically dock to the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module at 10:26 a.m.

Cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov started Monday morning training for Prichal’s arrival. The duo from Roscosmos simulated the Russian docking port’s approach, rendezvous and docking on the tele-robotically operated rendezvous unit, or TORU. The TORU, located inside the Zvezda service module, can also be used to manually control and dock an approaching Russian spacecraft if necessary.

Human research continued on Monday as NASA Flight Engineers Raja Chari and Kayla Barron studied how the central nervous system adapts to microgravity. The astronauts took turns wearing a virtual reality headset while seated inside the Columbus laboratory module for the GRASP experiment. The study observes a crew member reaching for virtual objects to compare hand-eye coordination and vestibular changes before, during, and after a spaceflight mission.

NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei worked on a pair of space physics experiments throughout Monday. Vande Hei first serviced samples inside the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace which enables the safe research of thermophysical properties of high temperature materials in weightlessness. Next, he opened up the Microgravity Science Glovebox and uninstalled hardware supporting research that observes processes involved in semiconductor crystal growth.

Flight Engineers Thomas Marshburn and Matthias Maurer worked throughout the day on a variety of robotics and maintenance activities. Marshburn worked on orbital plumbing tasks, collected station water samples for analysis, and took a robotics test for the Behavioral Core Measures study. Maurer partnered up with Chari practicing Canadarm2 robotic arm maneuvers planned for a spacewalk scheduled on Sept. 30th.

Crew Prioritizes Science, Training, and Exercise Before Cygnus Departure

Northrop Grumman's Cygnus space freighter pictured arriving at the International Space Station on Aug. 12, 2021. Cygnus will depart from the space station on Nov. 20, 2021.
Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter pictured arriving at the International Space Station on Aug. 12, 2021. Cygnus will depart from the space station on Nov. 20, 2021.

The Expedition 66 crew focused on science, training, and exercise aboard the International Space Station on Friday and prepared for the Cygnus departure tomorrow.

NASA Flight Engineers Raja Chari and Kayla Barron continued the GRIP experiment that they began earlier this week. The experiment studies how long-duration spaceflight affects crews’ ability to regulate grip force and upper limbs trajectories when manipulating objects during different movements. The pair set up hardware and completed GRIP science tasks in the supine position while donning noise-canceling headphones. Chari performed the GRIP science tasks in the seated position as well.

Additionally, NASA astronauts Thomas Marshburn and Barron completed a robotics research session for the Behavioral Core Measures experiment. The study aims to accurately assess the risk of adverse cognitive or behavioral conditions during extended spaceflight. Marshburn and Barron set up the appropriate robotics hardware and performed the BCM testing. Crews are expected to complete the session at least once per month, starting two weeks after they arrive aboard the space station.

For medical training, NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov of Roscosmos reviewed rescuer roles for a situation requiring cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Emergency medical equipment was deployed during the session. The trio practiced CPR positioning to ensure they could perform the procedure in space if necessary.

Focusing on fitness, crews also squeezed in a workout today. The astronauts completed cardio exercises on a stationary bicycle and treadmill fastened to the space station and resistive exercises using equipment that enables them to lift weights in weightlessness. Crews workout on average two hours per day in space. Routine exercise helps astronauts counter the bone and muscle loss that accompanies living and working in microgravity.

Meanwhile, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer transferred data from a fiber-optic monitor called Lumina. The device tracks radiation levels aboard the space station in real-time. Maurer completed the data transfer with an iPad-based application that gathers medical data from astronauts.

Looking ahead, Barron, Chari, Marshburn, and Vande Hei made final preparations to the Cygnus cargo ship, which is slated to depart from the space station on Saturday at 11 a.m. EST. Cygnus arrived at the space station in August carrying more than  8,200 pounds of cargo. Flight controllers will remotely decouple Cygnus from the space station by forwarding commands to the Canadarm2 robotic arm from Earth. Live coverage of the spacecraft’s departure will begin at 10:45 a.m. on NASA TV.

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