Astronauts Gear Up for Spacewalks As Axiom Unveils Ax-4 Mission Date

Canadarm2 Robotic Arm Extends From the Space Station

The Canadarm2 robotic arm is pictured extending from the International Space Station while orbiting 260 miles above the Pacific Ocean near the Aleutian Islands. Credit: NASA

The Expedition 70 crew reached the end of the week focusing primarily on a pair of upcoming spacewalks. There was also time aboard the International Space Station (ISS) for research and cargo operations as Axiom Space announced future private mission dates.

NASA astronauts Loral O’Hara and Jasmin Moghbeli partnered together Friday afternoon organizing the tools they will use on a spacewalk planned for October 30. The pair will exit the Quest airlock and spend about six-and-a-half hours removing electronics gear and replacing solar array hardware on the orbital lab.

Before the spacewalk preparations, O’Hara inspected hardware on the Human Research Facility, documented her daily food and medicine intake, and downlinked medical data to researchers on the ground. Moghbeli began her day collecting blood pressure measurements, moved on to life support maintenance, then swapped a vest and headband packed with sensors to comfortably measure her health as she worked throughout the day.

Northrop Grumman Cygnus Space Freighter Above Storm in Atlantic Ocean

Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter, with one of its cymbal-shaped UltraFlex solar arrays, is pictured attached to the Unity module’s Earth-facing port on the International Space Station. The orbital outpost was soaring 261 miles above a storm in the Atlantic Ocean at the time of this photograph on September 1, 2023. Credit: NASA

Astronaut Satoshi Furukawa of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) studied the maneuvers he will use to operate the Canadarm2 robotic arm when O’Hara and Moghbeli go on their maintenance spacewalk at the end of the month. He also packed the Cygnus space freighter with trash and discarded gear before staging cargo for loading and return on the next SpaceX Dragon cargo mission scheduled for launch on November 5.

Commander Andreas Mogensen of ESA (European Space Agency) continued testing a specialized camera that can capture imagery at 100,000 frames per second. He worked in the cupola pointing the camera toward Earth and photographing thunderstorms and their electrical activity to improve atmospheric knowledge and promote future space applications.

NASA Astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli Tries On Spacesuit

Expedition 70 Commander Andreas Mogensen from ESA (European Space Agency) assists NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli as she tries on her spacesuit and tests its components aboard the International Space Station’s Quest airlock in preparation for an upcoming spacewalk. Credit: NASA

Cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub spent all day Friday getting ready for their spacewalk scheduled on October 25. The flight engineers put on their Orlan spacesuits inside the Poisk airlock and practiced the spacewalking tasks they will use next week. During the excursion, the pair from Roscosmos will install science hardware, deploy a nanosatellite, and inspect a backup radiator that leaked coolant. Flight Engineer Konstantin Borisov joined the duo assisting the cosmonauts in and out of their spacesuits and reviewing their spacewalk procedures.

NASA, Axiom Space, and SpaceX teams are targeting no earlier than October 2024 to launch Axiom Mission 4, a private astronaut mission, to the orbiting laboratory. The next private astronaut mission, Axiom Mission 3 with former NASA astronaut and Commander Michael Lopez-Alegria leading again, is scheduled to liftoff from Florida no earlier than January 2024.

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