Space Station Crew Goes Into Thanksgiving With Spacewalk and SpaceX Dragon Preps
On Thanksgiving day, four Expedition 68 astronauts will relax as three cosmonauts continue preparing for a spacewalk on Friday. The residents onboard the International Space Station (ISS) are also expecting a space delivery this weekend bringing new roll-out solar arrays and science experiments.
Wednesday, three NASA astronauts and one astronaut from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) spent the day performing numerous research, cargo, and maintenance tasks. Thursday, the quartet will be off-duty observing the U.S. holiday before going into a busy weekend.
To observe the effects of microgravity on humans, NASA Flight Engineer Frank Rubio turned on the Ultrasound 2 device on Wednesday and scanned the leg, neck, and shoulder veins of JAXA Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata. Earlier, Rubio had partnered with fellow NASA astronaut Josh Cassada and inspected spacewalking tethers before participating in a NanoRacks botany experiment. Wakata checked ethernet connections inside the Columbus laboratory module.
Outside the International Space Station, Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin of the Expedition 68 crew will conduct a spacewalk on November 25 to relocate a radiator from the Rassvet module to Nauka. It will be the 256th spacewalk in support of station maintenance and upgrades, the fourth for Prokopyev, and the second for Petelin. Credit: NASA
Cassada began his day filming a demonstration showing how to measure the mass of everyday objects in weightlessness. Afterward, he unpacked cargo from the Cygnus space freighter that arrived on November 9. For most of the day Wednesday, NASA Flight Engineer Nicole Mann worked on life support maintenance in the Harmony module. She wrapped up her day organizing cargo that will be packed inside the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft for return to Earth after it arrives in a few days.
The Dragon resupply ship is attached to the top of the Falcon 9 rocket and is standing at the launch pad. It was scheduled for liftoff on Wednesday, but the launch was scrubbed due to poor weather conditions in the area along Florida’s Space Coast. NASA is now targeting liftoff at 2:20 p.m. EST from Kennedy Space Center on Saturday. It will arrive on Sunday for an automated docking at 7:30 a.m. to the Harmony module’s space-facing port. Dragon will deliver a pair of new roll-out solar arrays, new space agriculture and biotechnology studies, and food, fuel, and crew supplies. NASA TV, on the agency’s app and website, begins its launch coverage at 2 p.m. on Saturday and docking coverage at 6 a.m. on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin are outfitting their Orlan spacesuits and checking them for leaks ahead of a spacewalk scheduled to begin at 6:15 a.m. on Friday. The duo will spend about seven hours on Friday relocating a radiator from the Rassvet module to the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module. Cosmonaut Anna Kikina readied the European robotic arm and practiced the robotics maneuvers today she will use to help the spacewalkers move the radiator at the end of the week.