Crew Gets Ready for Thursday Spacewalk, Keeps Up Space Research

Astronaut Nicole Mann is pictured during her first spacewalk on Jan. 20, 2023, to prepare the orbiting lab for its next roll-out solar array.
Astronaut Nicole Mann is pictured during her first spacewalk on Jan. 20, 2023, to prepare the orbiting lab for its next roll-out solar array.

The Expedition 68 crew kicked off Monday preparing for a spacewalk to upgrade the International Space Station’s power generation system on Thursday. The orbital residents also researched a variety of space phenomena and packed a cargo craft ahead of its upcoming departure.

Astronauts Nicole Mann of NASA and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) began their day reviewing procedures for a spacewalk set to begin at 8:15 a.m. EST on Thursday. The duo will spend about seven hours completing the installation of hardware to ready the space station for its next roll-out solar array on the starboard truss structure. This will be their second spacewalk together and they will finish the external installation job they began on Jan. 20.

NASA Flight Engineers Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio joined Mann and Wakata during Monday afternoon for a conference with spacewalk specialists on the ground at Mission Control in Houston. Cassada and Rubio will assist the spacewalkers in and out of their Extravehicular Mobility Units (EMUs), or spacesuits, and monitor the excursion from inside the orbiting lab.

Cassada and Rubio also had time on Monday servicing botany and physics research hardware. Cassada worked inside the Kibo laboratory module planting seeds in the Advanced Plant Habitat for an experiment observing genetic changes in plants growing in microgravity. Rubio replaced experiment samples and research hardware inside the Combustion Integrated Rack for a study exploring how fires burn in weightlessness to improve fire safety techniques in space.

Commander Sergey Prokopyev is packing the ISS Progress 81 cargo craft with trash ahead of its departure on Feb. 6 after nearly eight-and-a-half months docked to the Zvezda service module. A new cargo craft will replenish the Expedition 68 crew and dock on Feb. 11 to the same port vacated by the Progress 81.

Roscosmos Flight Engineers Dmitri Petelin and Anna Kikina spent Monday on human research activities and a station photography session. Petelin wore a helmet packed with sensors measuring his reactions as he simulated spacecraft and robotic piloting techniques on a computer for future planetary missions. Kikina first photographed the external condition of the Nauka and Zvezda modules before moving on and studying ways to improve communications with international crews and ground controllers.

Muscle Scans, Bone Study Cleanup as Next Spacewalk Nears

Expedition 68 Flight Engineers Anna Kikina and Koichi Wakata pose together aboard the space station. Credit: Roscosmos
Expedition 68 Flight Engineers Anna Kikina and Koichi Wakata pose together aboard the space station. Credit: Roscosmos

The Expedition 68 crew members turned their attention toward understanding how muscles adapt to microgravity on Friday after intensive bone studies earlier in the week. The International Space Station residents also continued processing the bone research samples, worked on orbital plumbing, and resumed spacewalk preparations.

NASA Flight Engineers Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio were back in the Kibo laboratory module on Friday cleaning up after completing work for an advanced bone healing study. The duo finalized sample processing in Kibo’s Life Science Glovebox, stowed the samples in a science freezer, then cleaned up the research hardware and its components. Those samples will be returned to Earth and compared to a control group to study the effectiveness of a new bone-graft adhesive. Results may improve the healing ability of bone fractures and the treatment of bone defects on and off the Earth.

The duo later joined Flight Engineers Nicole Mann of NASA and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) configuring spacewalk hardware and reviewing procedures for an upcoming spacewalk. Mann and Wakata will spend about six-and-a-half hours in the vacuum of space in their Extravehicular Mobility Units (EMUs), or spacesuits, next week. The spacewalkers will continue upgrading the power generation system on the space station’s starboard truss structure beginning at 8:15 a.m. EST on Thursday, Feb. 2.

Mann and Wakata began their day inside the Columbus laboratory module for the long-running Myotones muscle study. The investigation entails scanning the back, neck, leg, and arm muscles with a specialized device to understand how living in space affects an astronaut’s muscle tone, stiffness, and elasticity. Observations my provide therapeutic insights for muscle conditions in space and on the ground.

Following four days of space physics research, Commander Sergey Prokopyev spent Friday servicing hatch components inside the ISS Progress 81 resupply ship ahead of its departure in early February. Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin spent the first part of his day working on life support hardware before assessing the stowage volume inside the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module. Flight Engineer Anna Kikina worked throughout the day servicing a variety of life support gear and cleaning ventilation systems.


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 Preps for Next Spacewalk, Explores Space Biology and Physics

Astronaut Nicole Mann is pictured during a spacewalk on Jan. 20, 2023, upgrading the space station's power generation system.
Astronaut Nicole Mann is pictured during a spacewalk on Jan. 20, 2023, upgrading the space station’s power generation system.

The Expedition 68 astronauts are cleaning up following three days of advanced bone repair studies while getting ready for an upcoming spacewalk. The International Space Station’s three cosmonauts continued their space physics and Earth imagery work, as well as maintained orbital lab systems.

NASA Flight Engineers Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio are cleaning up biology research hardware and finalizing sample processing after three full days of bone healing research. The duo worked inside the Kibo laboratory module servicing the samples then stowing them into science freezers. Those samples will be packed on a future SpaceX Dragon cargo mission for return then analyzed and compared to control samples in laboratories on Earth. The two astronauts also cleaned Kibo’s Life Science Glovebox and its components where the intensive bone investigation work took place this week.

Cassada also worked on space agriculture today collecting leaves from thale cress plants housed inside the Advanced Plant Habitat for stowage and analysis on Earth. He later tended to tomato plants growing inside the Veggie space botany facility for the Veg-05 experiment. Both studies are taking place inside the Columbus laboratory module.

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata explored ways to enable on-demand production of nutrients for astronauts on long-term missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. The technology demonstration uses engineered microbes, or yeast, to ensure a safe and simple food production environment in space and offset the degradation of nutrients stowed over long periods.

The next spacewalk to continue upgrading the orbiting lab’s power generation system is planned for Feb. 2. Two spacewalkers will exit the Quest airlock in their Extravehicular Mobility Units (EMUs), or spacesuits, to finish installing a modification kit on the starboard truss structure. The hardware installation job will ready the space station for its next roll-out solar array. Ahead of the upcoming spacewalk, spacesuit gloves and tethers were inspected.

Commander Sergey Prokopyev continued more space physics experiment runs on Thursday as he explored how clouds of highly charged particles, or plasma crystals, behave in microgravity. Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin of Roscosmos spent his day on life support maintenance before partnering with fellow cosmonaut Anna Kikina for ultrasound eye scans. Kikina resumed her Earth observations using ultraviolet imaging hardware to obtain a map of the nighttime glow of Earth’s atmosphere.


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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Spacewalkers Wrap Up First Spacewalk of 2023

Spacewalkers (from left) Koichi Wakata and Nicole Mann are pictured installing hardware on the space station preparing the orbiting lab for its next roll-out solar array. Credit: NASA TV
Spacewalkers (from left) Koichi Wakata and Nicole Mann are pictured installing hardware on the space station preparing the orbiting lab for its next roll-out solar array. Credit: NASA TV

NASA astronaut Nicole Mann and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata concluded their spacewalk at 3:35 p.m. EST after 7 hours and 21 minutes.

Mann and Wakata completed work left over from a previous spacewalk for a platform on which a set of International Space Station Roll-Out Solar Arrays (iROSAs) for the station’s 1B power channel will be installed later this year, as well as most of the work to install a similar mounting platform for a set of iROSAs for the 1A power channel. Due to time constraints, plans to bolt a final strut for the second platform were deferred until a future spacewalk. There is no impact to station operations.

The installation is part of a series of spacewalks to augment the International Space Station’s power channels with new iROSAs. Four iROSAs have been installed so far, and two more will be mounted to the platforms installed during this spacewalk in the future.

It was the 258th spacewalk in support of space station assembly, upgrades, and maintenance, the first spacewalk of 2023, and the first spacewalk for both astronauts.

Mann and Wakata are in the midst of a planned six-month science mission living and working aboard the microgravity laboratory to advance scientific knowledge and demonstrate new technologies for future human and robotic exploration missions, including lunar missions through NASA’s Artemis program.


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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Astronauts Begin Spacewalk to Prep for Station Power Upgrades

Expedition 68 Flight Engineer and NASA astronaut Josh Cassada prepares a roll-out solar array for deployment during a spacewalk on Dec. 22, 2022.
Expedition 68 Flight Engineer and NASA astronaut Josh Cassada prepares a roll-out solar array for deployment during a spacewalk on Dec. 22, 2022.

NASA astronaut Nicole Mann and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata began a spacewalk at 8:14 a.m. EST to complete the installation of two mounting platforms as part of planned solar array augmentation on the starboard side of the space station’s truss. The duo will complete the installation of a mounting platform on the 1B power channel that was started during a previous spacewalk, and begin installing a mounting platform on the 1A power channel.

The installation is part of a series of spacewalks to augment the International Space Station’s power channels with new International Space Station Roll-Out Solar Arrays (iROSAs). Four iROSAs have been installed so far, and two more will be mounted to the platforms installed during this spacewalk in the future.

Mann, designated as extravehicular crew member 2 (EV 2), is wearing an unmarked suit. Wakata, designated as extravehicular crew member 1 (EV 1), is wearing a suit with red stripes. Coverage of the spacewalk continues on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.


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 TV is Live as Two Astronauts Prep for Spacewalk

Expedition 68 Flight Engineers Nicole Mann and Koichi Wakata pose with an Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU), also known as a spacesuit on Dec. 28, 2022.
Expedition 68 Flight Engineers Nicole Mann and Koichi Wakata pose with an Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU), also known as a spacesuit on Dec. 28, 2022.

NASA Television coverage of today’s spacewalk with NASA astronaut Nicole Mann and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata is now underway and is also available on the NASA app, the space station blog and the agency’s website.

The two Expedition 68 crew members are preparing to exit the International Space Station‘s Quest airlock for a spacewalk expected to begin at about 8:15 a.m. EST and last approximately the six-and-a-half-hours.

Mann and Wakata will work to complete the installation of two mounting platforms as part of planned solar array augmentation on the starboard side of the space station’s truss. The duo will complete the installation of a mounting platform on the 1B power channel that was started during a previous spacewalk, and begin installing a mounting platform on the 1A power channel.

The installation is part of a series of spacewalks to augment the International Space Station’s power channels with new International Space Station Roll-Out Solar Arrays (iROSAs). Four iROSAs have been installed so far, and two more will be mounted to the platforms installed during this spacewalk in the future.

Mann will serve as extravehicular crew member 2 (EV 2) and will wear an unmarked suit. Wakata will serve as extravehicular crew member 1 (EV 1) and will wear a suit with red stripes. The spacewalk will be the first for both Mann and Wakata.


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 Ready for Spacewalk and Conducts Biology, Physics Research

Astronaut Koichi Wakata wears virtual reality goggles aboard the space station while training for a spacewalk.
Astronaut Koichi Wakata wears virtual reality goggles aboard the space station while training for a spacewalk.

The first spacewalk of 2023 will begin on Friday to continue upgrading the International Space Station’s power generation system. The Expedition 68 crew members finalized preparations today for the excursion while continuing advanced space research and orbital lab maintenance.

Astronauts Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Nicole Mann of NASA are due to spend about six-and-a-half hours working outside the station during a spacewalk on Friday. The two flight engineers will turn the batteries on inside their Extravehicular Mobility Units (EMUs), or spacesuits, at 8:15 a.m. EST signifying the start of a six-and-a-half hour spacewalk. The duo will work on the far end of the station’s starboard truss structure in their EMUs and install a modification kit enabling the future installation of a roll-out solar array. NASA TV, on the agency’s app and website, will begin its live spacewalk coverage at 7 a.m.

Wakata and Mann were joined on Thursday by NASA Flight Engineer Frank Rubio for final spacewalk preparations. The two spacewalkers along with Rubio staged tools and hardware inside the Quest airlock during the morning. The trio then spent the afternoon reviewing spacewalk steps and procedures before readying the two spacesuits for operations.

NASA Flight Engineer Josh Cassada focused on science activities throughout Thursday conducting biology and physics research. Cassada began his day in the Kibo laboratory module setting up the Life Science Glovebox to observe biological samples and explore new ways to heal bone conditions on and off the Earth. In the afternoon, he moved over to the Destiny laboratory module exchanging samples inside the Materials Science Research Rack for a study exploring semiconductor crystal growth in space.

The orbiting lab’s three cosmonauts kept up their schedule of ongoing microgravity research and lab upkeep on Thursday. Commander Sergey Prokopyev packed the ISS Progress 81 resupply ship with trash and discarded gear before more conducting more tests on a 3-D printer monitoring the device for excessive noise. Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin spent all day Thursday servicing life support hardware and electronics gear. Flight Engineer Anna Kikina began her day with a hearing assessment then checked radiation detectors before finally studying future spacecraft and robotic piloting techniques on a computer.


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 Works on Spacewalk Preparations and Science Hardware

Astronaut Josh Cassada conducts research operations inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox for a space physics study.
Astronaut Josh Cassada conducts research operations inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox for a space physics study.

Spacewalk preparations are continuing aboard the International Space Station as the Expedition 68 crew ensures the operations of research hardware in microgravity.

Flight Engineers Nicole Mann of NASA and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) are scheduled for their first spacewalk together at the end of the week. The astronauts spent a couple of hours on Tuesday morning reviewing procedures they will use to install power upgrades hardware that will ready the orbiting lab for its next roll-out solar array on a future spacewalk.

The duo will set their Extravehicular Mobility Units (EMUs), or spacesuits, to battery power at 8:15 a.m. EST on Friday signifying the beginning of their spacewalk. Mann and Wakata are expected to work outside in the vacuum of space for about six-and-a-half hours on the starboard side of the space station’s truss structure.

Mann wrapped up her day removing a small satellite deployer from inside the Kibo laboratory module’s airlock. Wakata began his day demonstrating simple space physics experiments for children on Earth before finally calibrating components inside the Combustion Integrated Rack.

NASA Flight Engineer Frank Rubio spent Tuesday morning tending to research samples and servicing a variety of science gear. Rubio started the day in the Destiny laboratory module nourishing samples and cleaning hardware for a study exploring ways to heal bone conditions on and off the Earth. Rubio then spent the afternoon inside the Columbus laboratory module connecting communications and networking hardware.

NASA astronaut Josh Cassada watered tomato plants growing for the Veg-05 space botany study. Cassada ended his day gathering hardware and setting up Kibo’s Life Science Glovebox for upcoming operations for the bone condition study.

Prokopyev and Petelin spent Tuesday working inside a pair Progress resupply ships on both cargo transfers and air and water tank maintenance. Roscosmos Flight Engineer Anna Kikina worked inside the Zarya module replacing electronics hardware.


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.


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 Splits Day on Spacesuits and Space Science

Astronaut Nicole Mann poses with an Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU), also known as a spacesuit, aboard the space station.
Astronaut Nicole Mann poses with an Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU), also known as a spacesuit, aboard the space station.

The seven Expedition 68 crew members split their day between spacesuits and space science. A spacewalk to upgrade the International Space Station’s power system is planned soon as advanced microgravity research is ongoing aboard the orbital lab.

Astronauts Nicole Mann of NASA and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) partnered together inside the Quest airlock readying a pair of Extravehicular Mobility Units (EMUs), or spacesuits, for an upcoming spacewalk. The pair were joined by NASA Flight Engineers Frank Rubio and Josh Cassada checking EMU components and preparing Quest ahead of the next spacewalk to prepare the station for its next roll-out solar array.

Meanwhile, space research is continuously taking place aboard the space station whether the experiments are operated manually by the astronauts, remotely by scientists on Earth, or autonomously with little to no inputs from crew members or payload specialists.

Wakata started his day in the Kibo laboratory module working on video components and cables to support research observation activities. Mann swapped a hard drive and installed new software on a laptop computer providing scientific data and command capabilities for an EXPRESS rack.

Cassada worked on a pair of research facilities on Thursday swapping fuel bottles inside the Combustion Integrated Rack then watering tomato plants growing inside the Veggie space botany system. Rubio serviced the Confocal space microscope that provides fluorescence imagery of biological samples providing fundamental insights into cellular and tissue characteristics.

Commander Sergey Prokopyev set up Earth observation hardware on Thursday morning before activating a 3-D printer and printing test samples. Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin studied the physics of fluids exposed to magnetic and electric fields in microgravity. Flight Engineer Anna Kikina spent her day on electronics maintenance charging equipment and checking cable connections.


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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