The seven-member Expedition 70 crew relaxed on Friday following a busy week of space research and cargo transfers beginning a three-day weekend. The orbital septet will go into the final days of February continuing its microgravity science while also preparing to welcome four new Commercial Crew members to the International Space Station.
On Sunday, Feb. 25, four SpaceX Crew-8 members will arrive at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) for a five-day quarantine period. The Falcon 9 rocket with the Dragon spacecraft atop will also roll out to its launch pad at KSC’s Launch Complex 39A the same day. NASA astronauts Matthew Dominick, Michael Barratt, and Jeanette Epps and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin are in final preparations for their lift off aboard Dragon targeted for 12:04 a.m. EDT on Friday, March 1. The quartet will rendezvous with the orbital outpost just over a day later and dock to the Harmony module’s forward port on Saturday, March 2.
The four Dragon crewmates will be greeted by the station residents, call down to Earth for a welcoming ceremony with family and mission officials, then participate in a mandatory onboard safety briefing. The commercial quartet will become Expedition 70-71 crew members and remain in space until mid-summer.
During a six-month stay aboard the orbital lab, the Crew-8 foursome will research a multitude of space phenomena to improve life for humans living on and off the Earth. The quartet will explore the mechanisms behind neurological disorders, ways to prevent fluid shifts that occur in astronauts living in space, how microgravity affects plant growth, and how algae may improve spacecraft life support systems.
About a week later, four SpaceX Crew-7 crew members who have been aboard the space station since Aug. 27, 2023, will undock from the Harmony’s space-facing port aboard the SpaceX Dragon Endurance spacecraft. Astronauts Jasmin Moghbeli, Andreas Mogensen, and Satoshi Furukawa along with cosmonaut Konstantin Borisov are planned to take a day’s ride orbiting Earth inside Endurance before splashing down off the coast of Florida ending a six-and-a-half-month mission in space.