Soon, there will be three robotic arms from three different countries operating on the orbiting lab. The newest arm, the European robotic arm (ERA), was delivered in July attached to Nauka. ESA (European Space Agency) Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet joined Roscosmos Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov inside Nauka today and configured ERA controller hardware and software. The other two robotic manipulators are Japan’s robotic arm which services the Kibo laboratory module, and the Canadarm2 robotic arm which captures and installs spaceships, maneuvers spacewalkers, and performs other fine-controlled tasks on the station.
McArthur started her day replacing fuel bottles inside the Combustion Integrated Rack before swabbing microbe samples from station surfaces for later analysis. Kimbrough disassembled an old device that measured electrical charges building up around the station’s main solar arrays. Finally, Vande Hei serviced communications hardware inside Kibo then moved on and switched samples inside the Materials Science Laboratory.
Three-time Roscosmos Flight Engineer Oleg Novitskiy checked components inside the Soyuz MS-18 crew ship today before it moves to a new port next week. He will be flanked by Vande Hei and Dubrov inside the Soyuz when it undocks from the Rassvet module on Thursday, Sept. 30, at 8:21 a.m. EDT. They will dock less than 45 minutes later to Nauka for the first time.
The Expedition 65 astronauts worked on a biology study today exploring how long-term microgravity affects skin and the healing process. Three other crewmates are gearing up for next week’s relocation of their Soyuz crew ship to the International Space Station’s newest science module.
NASA Flight Engineers Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough continued the Rodent Research-1 Demonstration on Tuesday. The space biology study seeks to identify genes and observe cell functions that are impacted by weightlessness and affect skin processes. The rodents will be returned to Earth late next week on the Cargo Dragon vehicle for further examination.
The pace of traffic at the orbiting lab picks up next week as three crewmates prepare to move their Soyuz crew ship to a new port. Two days later, a U.S. resupply ship will be next when it departs the station to return to Earth loaded with cargo and science experiments.
Three station crew members will enter their Soyuz MS-18 crew ship next Tuesday and take a short ride to another port. The trio, led by cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy flanked by NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei and Roscosmos Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov, will first back away from the Rassvet module at 8:21 a.m. EDT. It will dock less than 45 minutes later to Russia’s Nauka multipurpose laboratory module.
Next Thursday, the SpaceX Cargo Dragon will undock from the Harmony module’s international docking adapter at 9:05 a.m. It will splashdown off the coast of Florida about 14 hours later where SpaceX and NASA personnel will retrieve the vehicle and begin unpacking its precious cargo.
Five astronauts out of the seven crewmates who comprise the space station crew joined each other today for a review of upcoming research operations with rodents. The quintet reviewed roles and procedures for the study to learn how microgravity affects normal skin and healing functions. The astronauts will take turns transferring the mice to the Life Science Glovebox for observation.
Cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov are continuing to set up hardware, including cables and laptop computers, inside the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module. The new gear will enable the crew to control the European Robotic Arm from both inside and outside the station. The duo then split up Monday afternoon for Russian communications work and life support maintenance.
The Expedition 65 crew opened up BEAM today and transferred cargo for return to Earth aboard the SpaceX Cargo Dragon resupply ship. The orbital residents also worked on robotics, continued eye checks, and configured new life support gear.
Commander Akihiko Hoshide from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) opened up the station’s first commercial module BEAM, Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, today for cargo work. He was assisted by ESA (European Space Agency) Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet as they transferred some of the stowed hardware from BEAM into the Cargo Dragon for return to Earth at the end of the month.
Robotics has also kept the crew busy this week aboard the International Space Station. Today, NASA Flight Engineers Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough practiced capturing a cargo craft using a virtual Canadarm2 robotic arm on a computer. McArthur also checked audio sensors on the Astrobee robotic free-flyers that monitor the orbiting lab’s acoustic environment.
Kimbrough spent the afternoon finalizing connections of a new carbon dioxide (CO2) removal device in the U.S. Destiny laboratory module. Called the Four Bed CO2 Scrubber, the new life support gear seeks to demonstrate advanced technology that will support future human missions longer and farther into space.
Vision is a key factor during long term space missions and doctors on the ground continuously monitor how microgravity affects an astronaut’s eyes. Once again, NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei took on the crew medical officer role and scanned Roscosmos Flight Engineer Oleg Novitskiy‘s eyes with an ultrasound device. Vande Hei, who is staying in space until March 2022, then set up optical coherence tomography gear and imaged the veteran cosmonaut’s retinas.
Roscosmos Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov continued configuring Russia’s Nauka multipurpose laboratory module today. He connected ethernet cables and installed a laptop computer inside the new science module. Pesquet also trained on a pair of unique interfaces to operate the new European Robotic Arm that is attached to Nauka.
A 3D virtual reality camera that filmed Sunday’s spacewalk has been returned to the inside of the International Space Station. Meanwhile, the Expedition 65 continued its space biology research and lab maintenance activities on Thursday.
NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei was the crew medical officer again on Thursday, this time scanning the eyes of Roscosmos Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov with an ultrasound device. Afterward, Vande Hei set up optical coherence tomography gear and imaged Dubrov’s retinas. Eye health is critical during long term space missions as doctors continue exploring how microgravity affects vision.
Commander Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration (JAXA) spent Thursday morning setting up computers and cables before reconfiguring the Cell Biology Experiment Facility for upcoming research. In the afternoon, Hoshide installed a light on a spacesuit helmet then worked on transfers from the SpaceX Cargo Dragon resupply ship.
Dubrov and Pesquet tested hardware installed in the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module that will soon communicate with and control the European robotic arm. Roscosmos Flight Engineer Oleg Novitskiy spent the day servicing orbital plumbing gear in the station’s Russian segment.
A variety of robotics work took place today aboard the International Space Station to teach students programming skills and ready a science module for a new robotic arm. The Expedition 65 crew also conducted vein scans and continued cleaning up after Sunday’s spacewalk.
Commander Akihiko Hoshide began Wednesday in the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) Kibo laboratory module supporting a robotics challenge for Japanese and American students on Earth. The three-time station resident configured the toaster-sized Astrobee robotic free-flyers to perform maneuvers using programs written by the ground-based students. The event is designed to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers to improve space-based and Earth-bound technologies.
Hoshide also had his veins scanned during the afternoon with NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei taking charge as crew medical officer. Vande Hei used an ultrasound device with real-time assistance from flight surgeons on the ground and examined the JAXA astronaut’s neck, clavicle, shoulder, and leg veins.
Russia’s Nauka multipurpose laboratory module continues to be integrated with the orbiting lab. Two spacewalks on Sept. 3 and Sept. 9 began the cable connection work to power and communicate with the new science module. Now, cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov is configuring Nauka for operations with a new robotic arm from ESA (European Space Agency). The first-time space flyer from Roscosmos is setting up laptop computers and hardware inside Nauka that will soon control the European Robotic Arm attached to Nauka.
McArthur joined ESA (European Space Agency) Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet earlier in the day stowing tools used during Sunday’s spacewalk to prepare the station for a new Roll-Out Solar Array. Pesquet also spent a portion of his day stowing an ESA incubator and deploying a microbiology experiment.
Two International Space Station crew members have had their stay onboard the orbiting lab extended to nearly a year. Meanwhile, space biology and life support maintenance kept the Expedition 65 crew busy on Tuesday.
With the plans for Russian spaceflight participants to visit the space station as part of the Soyuz MS-19 crew in October 2021, NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and Roscosmos cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov will remain aboard the station until March 2022. Upon return to Earth, Vande Hei will hold the record for longest single spaceflight for an American.
A potential benefit to this extension is NASA gaining deeper insight into how the human body adapts to life in microgravity for longer periods of time. This research helps prepare for Artemis missions to the Moon and eventually long-duration missions to Mars, as well as provides critical opportunities for additional research to be conducted aboard the station that can benefit life on Earth.
Afterward, the crew studied for the upcoming RR-D1 study. The experiment will be housed inside the Life Science Glovebox. The biology study specifically aims to understand how weightlessness impacts normal skin function and wound healing.
Vande Hei, with assistance from Kimbrough, removed support components today that kept a new carbon dioxide (CO2) scrubber attached to the SpaceX Cargo Dragon spaceship during its flight to the station last month. The device that cleans the station’s atmosphere of CO2 will soon be installed in the U.S. Destiny laboratory module.
Dubrov and fellow cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy are still reconfiguring the station’s Russian segment following their two spacewalks on Sept. 3 and Sept. 9. The duo also took turns wearing heart monitoring gear. Dubrov then began setting up a laptop computer and a European robotic arm controller inside the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module.
Afterward, Hoshide swabbed and collected microbe samples from station surfaces for incubation and analysis back on Earth. Pesquet also collected microbe samples from the station’s atmosphere for observation on petri dishes.
NASA Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei and Megan McArthur both relaxed on Monday morning having assisted spacewalkers Hoshide and Pesquet throughout the day on Sunday. Vande Hei then moved on and swapped and cleaned components for the ACE-T-11 physics study that is exploring space manufacturing techniques. McArthur replaced fuel bottles inside the Combustion Integrated Rack and later cleaned up debris in the orbiting lab’s Plant Habitat housing Hatch Green chiles growing for the Plant Habitat-04 space crop experiment.
Astronauts Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) have concluded the first spacewalk conducted by two international partner astronauts out of the International Space Station’s Quest airlock at 3:09 p.m. EDT, after 6 hours and 54 minutes.
Hoshide and Pesquet successfully assembled and attached a support bracket in preparation for future installation of the orbiting laboratory’s third new solar array. NASA is augmenting six of the eight existing power channels of the space station with new solar arrays to ensure a sufficient power supply is maintained for NASA’s exploration technology demonstrations for Artemis and beyond as well as utilization and commercialization.
The crew also replaced a device that measures the electrical charging potential of the arrays and associated surfaces in its vicinity, called a floating point measurement unit, on a separate truss section. The new device was powered on successfully.
This was the fourth spacewalk for Hoshide, the sixth for Pesquet, and the 12th spacewalk this year. Hoshide has now spent a total of 28 hours and 17 minutes spacewalking, and Pesquet’s total spacewalking time is 39 hours and 54 minutes. Space station crew members have now spent a total of 64 days, 5 hours, and 54 minutes working outside the station conducting 244 spacewalks in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory.
In November 2020, the International Space Station surpassed its 20-year milestone of continuous human presence, providing opportunities for unique research and technological demonstrations that help prepare for long-duration missions to the Moon and Mars and also improve life on Earth. In that time, 244 people from 19 countries have visited the orbiting laboratory that has hosted nearly 3,000 research investigations from researchers in 108 countries and areas.
Hoshide is extravehicular crew member 1 (EV 1), wearing a spacesuit bearing red stripes and using helmet camera #22. Pesquet is extravehicular crew member 2 (EV 2), wearing the unmarked spacesuit and helmet camera #20.
The spacewalkers will begin by working together to build the upper bracket of the modification kit then installing first the left strut followed by the right strut to the mast canister, the base, of one of the solar arrays on the port side of the station’s backbone truss structure. The support bracket will enable future installation of a third of six new International Space Station Roll-Out Solar Arrays (iROSAs) to upgrade one of the station’s eight power channels. Known as 4A, the channel provides partial power to the U.S. Laboratory, the Harmony module, and the Columbus module.
This is the fourth spacewalk for Hoshide, the sixth spacewalk for Pesquet, and the station’s 244thspacewalk in support of assembly, maintenance, and upgrades.