The Expedition 49 crew is getting ready for the mid-October arrival of the Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft. The trio is also exploring human research and setting up a student Earth observation experiment.
First-time astronauts Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi are brushing up on the robotic capture techniques necessary to grapple the Cygnus cargo craft. The Cygnus private space freighter is targeted to launch from Virginia between Oct. 9 and 13 and arrive at the International Space Station about 2-1/2 days later.
The duo will be inside the cupola at the robotics controls monitoring Cygnus’ arrival then capturing it with the 57.7 foot long Canadarm2. Ground controllers will then take over robotic operations and remotely attach Cygnus to the Unity module. Cygnus is delivering crew supplies, scientific research and hardware to the station crew members.
Before the pair began training today, Rubins sampled the station’s water for microbes and stowed the Hard to Wet Surfaces research gear. Onishi tested his fine motor skills on a mobile tablet device and logged his diet for the ENERGY experiment.
Commander Anatoly Ivanishin set up the Sally Ride EarthKAM experiment inside a Harmony module window today. The Earth imagery gear allows students to take pictures of Earth from space and share them on the internet.
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Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer Kate Rubins are two days away from their second spacewalk in as many weeks. The duo are reviewing the tasks they will perform outside the International Space Station for 6.5 hours of maintenance work beginning Thursday at 8 a.m. EDT. Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi will assist Williams and Rubins from inside the space station.
They will retract and cover an out-of-service thermal control radiator and install lights and a high-definition camera for better views of the station structure and the Earth below. If time allows, the spacewalkers will perform get-ahead tasks including photographing the condition of the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer.
In the Russian segment of the station, the three cosmonauts concentrated on a variety of human research experiments and crew departure activities. Flight Engineers Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka collected blood and saliva samples to explore how bones and the immune system are impacted by living in space. The pair also practiced an entry simulation drill today inside the Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft they will return home in with Williams on Sept. 6.
The space station cameras spotted three hurricanes today, two in the Pacific Ocean and one in the Atlantic Ocean. Hurricanes Lester and Madeline were seen in the Pacific potentially threatening the big island of Hawaii. Hurricane Gaston was seen in the open Atlantic.