Spacewalkers Relax, Science Continues as Station Orbits Higher

Astronaut Nicole Mann is pictured inside the Quest airlock organizing spacewalk tools and hardware on Jan. 31, 2023.
Astronaut Nicole Mann is pictured inside the Quest airlock organizing spacewalk tools and hardware on Jan. 31, 2023.

Two astronauts took the morning off on Friday following a spacewalk the day before while the rest of the Expedition 68 crew conducted the latest space experiments and lab maintenance tasks. Meanwhile, the International Space Station is orbiting higher today to get ready for a pair of spaceships arriving this month.

Flight Engineers Nicole Mann of NASA and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) relaxed Friday morning after conducting a six-hour and 41-minute spacewalk on Thursday. The duo completed the installation of hardware on the station’s Starboard-4 truss readying the orbiting lab for its next roll-out solar array. The pair then went into the afternoon with standard post-spacewalk medical checks before cleaning up the Quest airlock where their spacewalking tools and Extravehicular Mobility Units (EMUs), or spacesuits, are stowed.

NASA astronauts Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio had their hands full on Friday as they explored how weightlessness affects a wide range of phenomena including biotechnology, agriculture, and physics. The ongoing microgravity studies provide scientists and engineers new insights that could promote state-of-the-art industries both in space and on Earth.

Cassada began his day configuring the BioFabrication Facility, a research device that will investigate the 3-D printing of organ-like tissues in microgravity, in the Columbus laboratory module. Afterward, he was back inside Columbus watering tomato plants growing inside the Veggie space botany facility. The Veg-05 study is studying a continuous fresh-food production system for space missions. Rubio set up the new Particle Vibration experiment inside the Destiny laboratory module’s Microgravity Science Glovebox. The physics study will investigate how particles organize themselves in fluids possibly advancing manufacturing techniques and providing new insights on astrophysics.

Commander Sergey Prokopyev assisted Flight Engineer Anna Kikina during her cardiac research early Friday as she attached sensors to herself to monitor her blood circulation in microgravity. Prokopyev then worked inside the Zvezda service module checking its systems. Kikina then spent her day inside Zvezda and the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module servicing their ventilation systems. Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin spent all day Friday replacing air purification hardware before transferring filters from the ISS Progress 82 cargo craft to the Unity module.

The space station is orbiting higher, 260 miles above Earth at its highest point and 257.1 miles at its lowest, after the ISS Progress 81 resupply ship fired its engines for nearly fifteen minutes early Friday morning. The new orbiting altitude places the station at the correct altitude for the arrival of the new ISS Progress 83 cargo craft on Feb. 11 and the unpiloted Soyuz MS-23 crew ship on Feb. 21.


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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Spacewalk Preps Continue as Soyuz Seat Move Planned as Precaution

Astronauts Koichi Wakata and Nicole Mann are pictured inside the space station's Destiny laboratory module.
Astronauts Koichi Wakata and Nicole Mann are pictured inside the space station’s Destiny laboratory module.

Spacewalk preparations continue onboard the International Space Station as the Expedition 68 crew begins it weekend. The orbital residents also worked on space botany and robotics while maintaining orbital lab operations on Friday.

Astronauts Nicole Mann of NASA and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) worked throughout Friday familiarizing themselves with an upcoming spacewalk. The pair was joined by NASA Flight Engineers Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio for computerized spacewalk training and a conference with specialists on the ground. Two astronauts are scheduled exit the station and mount hardware on the truss structure readying the orbital lab for its next roll-out solar array.

Cassada also continued tending to tomato plants growing for the Veg-05 space botany study and worked on cargo transfers inside the Cygnus space freighter from Northrop Grumman. Rubio inspected emergency hardware than took a computerized robotics test to remain proficient when operating the Canadarm2 robotic arm.

Wakata repaired components on a multipurpose small payload rack in the Kibo laboratory module that supports a wide variety of research and educational activities in space. Mann spent some time tightening screws on the advanced resistive exercise device located in the Tranquility module.

Commander Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos worked on a variety of maintenance tasks inside the Zvezda service module on Friday. Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin transferred cargo from inside the ISS Progress 82 cargo craft and updated the station’s inventory management system. Flight Engineer Anna Kikina set up video equipment to record an exercise session then tested laptop computers inside the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module.

On Thursday, Jan. 12, the International Space Station mission management team polled “go” to move NASA astronaut Frank Rubio’s Soyuz seat liner from the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft to Dragon Endurance to provide lifeboat capabilities in the event Rubio would need to return to Earth because of an emergency evacuation from the space station. The seat liner move is scheduled to begin Tuesday, Jan. 17, with installation and configuration continuing through most of the day Wednesday, Jan. 18. The change allows for increased crew protection by reducing the heat load inside the MS-22 spacecraft for cosmonauts Prokopyev and Petelin in the event of an emergency return to Earth.

Once the replacement Soyuz MS-23 arrives at the space station on Feb. 22, Rubio’s seat liner will be transferred to the new Soyuz and the seat liners for Prokopyev and Petelin will be moved from MS-22 to MS-23 ahead of their return in the Soyuz.


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Station Crew Wraps Up a Busy Year as Soyuz Review Continues

Expedition 68 Flight Engineers (from left) Josh Cassada, Nicole Mann, and Frank Rubio, all from NASA, and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), pose for a festive portrait on Christmas Day inside the cupola as the International Space Station orbited 270 miles above the southern Atlantic Ocean on Dec. 25, 2022.
Expedition 68 Flight Engineers (from left) Josh Cassada, Nicole Mann, and Frank Rubio, all from NASA, and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), pose for a festive portrait on Christmas Day inside the cupola as the International Space Station orbited 270 miles above the southern Atlantic Ocean on Dec. 25, 2022.

Research and maintenance activities aboard the International Space Station continue into the new year while engineers and managers discuss Soyuz capabilities and potential next steps in response to the Soyuz MS-22’s external cooling loop leak.

The Expedition 68 crew remains in good condition, performing a variety of maintenance and research activities and looks forward to some time off on New Year’s Day. NASA astronauts Frank RubioJosh Cassada, and Nicole Mann continued work to service the spacesuits used by Rubio and Cassada to install a new International Space Station Roll-out Solar Array.

On Dec. 29, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata monitored the deployment of eight Cubesats from JAXA’s Kibo module. Cosmonauts Sergey ProkopyevDmitri Petelin and Anna Kikina worked on a variety of maintenance and research tasks.

With integrated crews on each other’s spacecraft, NASA and Roscosmos work jointly on any decisions related to crew safety including crew transportation. NASA and Roscosmos are continuing to conduct a variety of engineering reviews and are consulting with other international partners about methods for safely bringing the Soyuz crew home for both normal and contingency scenarios. A final decision on the path forward is expected in January.

As a part of the analysis, NASA also reached out to SpaceX about its capability to return additional crew members aboard Dragon if needed in an emergency, although the primary focus is on understanding the post-leak capabilities of the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft.

Station teams also are preparing for the undocking and departure of the SpaceX CRS-26 cargo spacecraft on Monday, Jan. 9. The cargo Dragon is scheduled to return valuable scientific research samples through a splashdown off the Florida coast. Undocking is scheduled for 5:05 p.m. EST, with splashdown planned for Wednesday, Jan. 11. Live coverage of the undocking and departure will begin at 4:45 p.m. on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.


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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.


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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Week Begins with Bone Research, Cargo Operations Ahead of Spacewalk

The Soyuz MS-22 crew ship is pictured docked to the Rassvet module. In the background, the Prichal docking module is attached to the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module.
The Soyuz MS-22 crew ship is pictured docked to the Rassvet module. In the background, the Prichal docking module is attached to the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module.

Life science and cargo operations kicked off the week for the Expedition 68 crew aboard the International Space Station. Two astronauts are also planning to exit the orbiting lab on Wednesday for a seven-hour spacewalk.

NASA Flight Engineers Josh Cassada and Nicole Mann took turns with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata on Monday servicing research samples for an experiment exploring how bones heal in space. The investigation may provide insights into debilitating bone conditions helping advance bone healing therapies for patients on and off the Earth.

All three astronauts also partnered with NASA Flight Engineer Frank Rubio and worked throughout Monday inside the Northrop Grumman Cygnus space freighter attached to the Earth-facing port of the Unity module. The quartet rotated in and out of the vehicle unpacking cargo including crew supplies, new science experiments, and station hardware, as well as stowing trash and old gear inside the space freighter for disposal.

Rubio then spent the afternoon installing multi-layer insulation inside the Harmony module’s space-facing international docking adapter to which the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship is docked. Wakata started his day preparing samples for an experiment run inside the Materials Science Laboratory, a space physics research device sponsored by ESA (European Space Agency). Mann photographed a student-designed study that is exploring new methods to degrade plastic waste in space.

Cassada and Rubio are planning to go on their third spacewalk together at 7:45 a.m. EST on Wednesday. The pair 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 truss structure and install the station’s fourth iROSA on the Port-4 truss structure. The pair will spend about seven hours on the installation job live on NASA TV on the agency’s app and its website.

NASA and Roscosmos continue to evaluate an external cooling loop leak from the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft docked to the Rassvet module of the International Space Station. Temperatures and humidity within the Soyuz spacecraft remain within acceptable limits. Roscosmos has identified the source of the leak as the external cooling loop of the Soyuz.

As part of the ongoing evaluation and investigation, a robotic inspection of the suspected leak area was completed Dec. 18, using cameras on the Canadarm2 robotic arm. A small hole was observed, and the surface of the radiator around the hole showed discoloration. Roscosmos is evaluating the imagery to determine if this hole could have resulted from micrometeoroid debris.

Space station operations and research continue while station managers and international partners collect and analyze data, and work to develop a forward course of action for the Soyuz and its crew.

With help from the cosmonauts aboard the station, Roscosmos conducted tests on additional Soyuz systems on Dec. 16, including a short demonstration of the spacecraft’s propulsion system. So far, testing has shown no additional issues.

The Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft carried NASA astronaut Frank Rubio and Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin into space after launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Sept. 21.

The leak was first detected around 7:45 p.m. EST Dec. 14, when pressure sensors in the cooling loop showed low readings. Data analysis indicates the majority of the cooling fluid had leaked out by 1:30 p.m. Dec. 15.

At the time of the leak, Prokopyev and Petelin were preparing to conduct a spacewalk. The spacewalk was postponed, so the cosmonauts did not exit the space station or become exposed to the leaking coolant.

Back inside station, Prokopyev and Petelin configured the Poisk module and its airlock to its normal status. Prokopyev later collected obsolete hardware for disposal aboard Cygnus and also tested a 3D printer. Petelin inspected cable connections and inventoried spare parts aboard the station. Flight Engineer Anna Kikina spent the morning exploring futuristic spacecraft and robotic piloting techniques then worked in the afternoon servicing an oxygen generator.


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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Controllers Evaluating Soyuz After Successful Thruster Test

The Soyuz MS-22 crew ship is pictured docked to the Rassvet module. In the background, the Prichal docking module is attached to the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module.
The Soyuz MS-22 crew ship is pictured docked to the Rassvet module. In the background, the Prichal docking module is attached to the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module.

NASA and Roscosmos continue to evaluate an external leak that occurred Dec. 14, from the Roscosmos Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft docked to the Rassvet module of the International Space Station. Roscosmos has identified the source of the leak as the external cooling loop of the Soyuz.

As part of the ongoing evaluation and investigation, Roscosmos flight controllers conducted a successful test of the Soyuz MS-22 thrusters at 3:08 a.m. EST Friday, Dec. 16. The systems that were tested were nominal, and Roscosmos assessments of additional Soyuz systems continue. Temperatures and humidity within the Soyuz spacecraft, which remains docked to the Rassvet module, are within acceptable limits.

NASA is supporting the ongoing investigation with the use of the Canadarm2 robotic arm to provide additional viewing of the Soyuz exterior on Sunday, Dec. 18. To accommodate this change in plans, NASA has determined a new target date for the upcoming U.S. spacewalk to install an International Space Station Roll-Out Solar Array (iROSA), which was originally scheduled for Monday, Dec. 19. The spacewalk will take place Wednesday, Dec. 21.

The Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft carried NASA astronaut Frank Rubio and Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin into space after launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Sept. 21.

The leak was first detected around 7:45 p.m. EST Dec. 14, when data pressure sensors in the cooling loop showed low readings. At that time, Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin were preparing to conduct a spacewalk. The spacewalk was cancelled, so the cosmonauts did not exit the space station or become exposed to the leaking coolant. From data analysis and cameras aboard the space station, the majority of fluid had leaked out by yesterday, Dec. 15, around 1:30 p.m. EST.

More updates will be provided as data becomes available.

On station the Expedition 68 crew members set up a variety of advanced research gear to capture high definition video of Earth and house biology samples for observation.

Flight Engineers Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio reviewed spacewalk robotics activities with Flight Engineers Nicole Mann of NASA and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

Cassada and Wakata also had time on Friday morning configuring hardware supporting advanced space science experiments. Cassada assembled the SphereCam-1, a digital ultra-high resolution video camera, inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module. He pointed the camera outside Destiny’s science window, or Window Observation Research Facility, and filmed Earth demonstrating its ability to capture the highest resolution, groundbreaking 12K views from a spacecraft. Wakata activated the Cell Biology Experiment Facility (CBEF) inside the Kibo laboratory module that will house scientific samples for future space biology research. The CBEF is an incubator that supports a variety of life science observing cells, plants, and small mammals.

Prokopyev and Petelin cleaned their Orlan spacesuits and stowed their spacewalking tools following the postponement of Wednesday night’s spacewalk.

Flight Engineer Anna Kikina also worked on post-spacewalk activities returning the station’s Russian segment to normal and checking radiation sensors worn on the Orlan suits. Kikina wrapped up her day treating surfaces inside the Zarya module with an anti-fungal agent to maintain cleanliness and health aboard the 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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NASA Provides Update on International Space Station Operations

The Soyuz MS-22 crew ship is pictured docked to the Rassvet module. In the background, the Prichal docking module is attached to the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module.
The Soyuz MS-22 crew ship is pictured docked to the Rassvet module. In the background, the Prichal docking module is attached to the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module.

On Wednesday, Dec. 14, an external leak was detected from the Roscosmos Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft docked to the Rassvet module on the International Space Station. The external radiator cooling loop of the Soyuz is the suspected leak source.

The Roscosmos Mission Control team in Moscow postponed Wednesday evening’s planned spacewalk with two cosmonauts to evaluate the situation and data from the Soyuz spacecraft. None of the crew members aboard the space station was in danger, and all conducted normal operations throughout the day.

Roscosmos is closely monitoring Soyuz spacecraft temperatures, which remain within acceptable limits. NASA and Roscosmos continue to coordinate external imagery and inspection plans to aid in evaluating the external leak location. Plans for an additional inspection of the Soyuz exterior using the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm are underway.

The leak was first detected around 7:45 p.m. EST Dec. 14 when data from multiple pressure sensors in the cooling loop showed low readings. At that time, cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin were preparing to conduct a spacewalk. The cosmonauts did not exit the space station, and no crew members were exposed to the leaking coolant.

The Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft carried NASA astronaut Frank Rubio and Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin into space after launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Sept. 21.

The crew aboard station completed normal operations Thursday, including participating in science investigations and research, as well as configuring tools ahead of a planned U.S. spacewalk on Monday, Dec. 19. Specialists are working through robotic plans ahead of Monday’s spacewalk to best optimize for upcoming station operations and the Soyuz inspection.

A Roscosmos spacewalk scheduled for Dec. 21 is indefinitely postponed as the team continues its investigation of the Soyuz spacecraft.

More updates will be provided as data becomes available.


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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Mission Controllers Assess Soyuz Coolant Leak

The European robotic arm controlled by cosmonaut Anna Kikina surveys the Soyuz MS-22 crew ship after the detection of a leak that cancelled Wednesday's spacewalk. Credit: NASA TV
The European robotic arm controlled by cosmonaut Anna Kikina surveys the Soyuz MS-22 crew ship after the detection of a leak that cancelled Wednesday’s spacewalk. Credit: NASA TV

Ground teams at Mission Control in Moscow continue to assess a coolant leak detected from the aft end of the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft docked to the International Space Station. As a result, the planned Dec.14 Roscosmos spacewalk was canceled to allow time to evaluate the fluid and potential impacts to the integrity of the Soyuz spacecraft.

NASA and Roscosmos will continue to work together to determine the next course of action following the ongoing analysis. The crew members aboard the space station are safe, and were not in any danger during the leak.

The Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft carried NASA astronaut Frank Rubio and Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin into space after launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Sept. 21.


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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NASA is GO for U.S. Spacewalks Outside International Space Station

ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer points the camera toward himself and takes a "space-selfie" during a spacewalk on March 23, 2022.
ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer points the camera toward himself and takes a “space-selfie” during a spacewalk on March 23, 2022.

NASA completed a flight readiness review in October, and is “GO” to resume routine spacewalks outside of the International Space Station. The first of three planned spacewalks is targeted to begin around mid-November to continue the work to install roll out solar arrays, called iROSA.

The review marks the completion of an investigation into the cause of a thin layer of moisture being discovered in March inside ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer’s helmet after station airlock re-pressurization following a nearly seven-hour spacewalk. Mauer was conducting a spacewalk focused on preparation of new solar array installation outside the microgravity laboratory.

Following the successful spacewalk, the space station crew expedited Maurer’s helmet removal and then gathered data in coordination with ground support teams at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. The agency identified the event as a close-call and immediately declared a stop to all future planned U.S. Operating Segment spacewalks pending an investigation into the cause. NASA returned to Earth water samples and some suit hardware with Soyuz 65S and NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission, as well as returned the spacesuit as part of the agency’s SpaceX CRS-25 mission for detailed analysis.

During the investigation, the space station team completed a detailed test, teardown, and evaluation of the water samples and suit hardware to determine what led to the observed water, which was more than normal, in the helmet.

The team confirmed there were no hardware failures within the suit. The cause for the water in the helmet was likely due to integrated system performance where several variables such as crew exertion and crew cooling settings led to the generation of comparatively larger than normal amounts of condensation within the system.

Based on the findings, the team has updated operational procedures and developed new mitigation hardware to minimize scenarios where integrated performance results in water accumulation, while absorbing any water that does appear. These measures will help contain any liquid in the helmet to continue to keep crew safe.

“Crew safety is the top priority of NASA and our international partners,” said Kathryn Lueders, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Operations Mission Directorate. “I’m proud of the space station and ground teams’ work to keep our crew members safe, for taking the time necessary to close out the investigation, and for continually findings ways to mitigate risks in human spaceflight.”

Based on the results of the investigation, the additional operational procedures, and mitigation hardware, the NASA management team concurred and approved return to normal operations.


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Expedition 68 Begins, SpaceX Crew Swap Planned for October

NASA astronauts (from left) Jessica Watkins, Bob Hines, and Frank Rubio pose for a portrait together inside the cupola, the International Space Station's "window to the world."
NASA astronauts (from left) Jessica Watkins, Bob Hines, and Frank Rubio pose for a portrait together inside the cupola, the International Space Station’s “window to the world.”

The Expedition 68 mission is officially underway with seven astronauts and cosmonauts living and working together aboard the International Space Station. The crew swaps aren’t over yet as four SpaceX Crew-5 members count down to their upcoming launch to the orbiting lab.

Commander Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA (European Space Agency) will lead station operations until she and fellow crewmates Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines, and Jessica Watkins return to Earth aboard the SpaceX Dragon Freedom crew ship in about two weeks. The quartet, who have been aboard the space station since April 27, spent Friday checking their Dragon pressure suits, packing personal items, and reviewing departure and landing procedures.

The homebound commercial crew is waiting for their replacements who are targeting a launch to the orbiting lab for no earlier than noon EDT on Wednesday, Oct. 5. SpaceX Crew-5 Commander Nicole Mann and Pilot Josh Cassada, both from NASA, with Mission Specialists Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Anna Kikina of Roscosmos, are due to arrive at the station one day after launching aboard the Dragon Endurance. They will spend a few days getting used to life on orbit before Cristoforetti and her three Freedom crewmates end their mission and parachute to Earth inside the Freedom crew ship.

In the meantime, first time space-flyer Frank Rubio of NASA is in his second week as a space station flight engineer. He arrived at the orbiting lab with fellow flight engineers Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin, both from Roscosmos, on Sept. 21 inside the Soyuz MS-22 crew ship.

Rubio spent the end of the week exploring how to use artificial intelligence to adapt materials manufacturing, such as fiber optics, to the vacuum of space for the Intelligent Glass Optics study. He swapped and observed glass fiber samples being pulled inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox. Petelin and Prokopyev and Petelin partnered together for a study exploring how microgravity affects the heart and blood vessels.v