Cancer Therapy, Agriculture Studies One Day Before Spacewalk

Spacewalkers Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin ISS

Cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin are pictured during a spacewalk on May 12, 2023, to deploy and activate a radiator on the Nauka science module. Credit: NASA

On Tuesday, the Expedition 69 crew prioritized stem cell research and space botany, conducted maintenance on the ISS, and continued unpacking the Cygnus space freighter. Two cosmonauts are set to embark on the 10th spacewalk of the year, focusing on hardware installation and relocation, supported by Flight Engineer Andrey Fedyaev who will command the European robotic arm.

Stem cells and space botany were the primary research objectives for the Expedition 69 crew on Tuesday, while they were also working to unpack a new U.S. cargo craft. Two cosmonauts received the “go” signal to exit the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday, August 9, for further upgrades on the orbital lab.

Life science in microgravity enables researchers to observe biological phenomena, achieving unique insights that would be impossible in Earth’s gravity environment. Scientists then apply this new knowledge, potentially improving various Earth-bound conditions, including human health and agriculture.

Experiments on Cancer Therapies and Agriculture in Space

Two experiments aboard the station on Tuesday addressed new cancer therapies and ways to grow crops in space. NASA Flight Engineer Frank Rubio worked in the Kibo laboratory module, servicing stem cell samples for the StemCellEX-H Pathfinder study. This study aims to enhance therapies for blood diseases and cancers such as leukemia. United Arab Emirates (UAE) astronaut Sultan Alneyadi harvested leaves from thale cress plants, similar to cabbage and mustard, for the Plant Habitat-03 experiment. The objective is to learn how to grow food and sustain crews on future space missions.

Cygnus Approaches Space Station Above the Euphrates River

Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus cargo craft is pictured from the International Space Station as it approaches while orbiting 260 miles above the Euphrates River in Iraq on August 4, 2023. Credit: NASA

Orbital Maintenance Activities

NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Woody Hoburg spent their day primarily on orbital maintenance. Bowen replaced air filters in the Destiny laboratory module, while Hoburg monitored the performance of the advanced resistive exercise device in the Tranquility module, troubleshooting as needed. The duo also allocated time for scientific activities, with Bowen processing his blood samples for analysis and Hoburg testing the station’s potable water samples for quality.

Unpacking Cygnus Space Freighter

All four astronauts continued unpacking some of the 8,200 pounds of science and supplies delivered aboard the Cygnus space freighter last Friday, August 4. The cargo activities will continue until late October, at which point Cygnus will depart the station, completing a three-month orbital stay.

Upcoming Spacewalk

Two cosmonauts are prepared to begin the 10th spacewalk at the station this year to install orbital debris shields and relocate hardware on the orbital outpost’s Roscosmos segment. Commander Sergey Prokopyev and Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin have completed their procedure reviews and Orlan spacesuit configurations and will begin a six-and-a-half-hour spacewalk at 10:45 a.m. EDT on Wednesday. NASA TV, on the agency’s app and website, begins its live spacewalk coverage at 10:15 a.m.

Flight Engineer Andrey Fedyaev will support the two spacewalkers on Wednesday, commanding the European robotic arm (ERA) from inside the Nauka science module during the planned six-hour, 30-minute excursion. Fedyaev began his day with Prokopyev and Petelin, reviewing final spacewalk procedures. He then spent the rest of the day configuring the ERA, preparing it for hardware transfers during Wednesday’s spacewalk.

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