On the International Space Station (ISS), the four new Expedition 68 crew members are getting used to life in space while four other crewmates are preparing to go home this month. In addition, today’s research included replacing fuel bottles in the Combustion Integrated Rack and collecting samples for the Food Physiology and Host Pathogen experiment.
Flight engineers Frank Rubio of NASA and Dmitri Petelin of Roscosmos removed the rack and replaced it with a new high-percentage oxygen bottle. The Combustion Integration Rack is used to perform combustion investigations in microgravity, and results could improve understanding of early fire growth behavior and help determine the best fire suppression techniques, improving crew safety in future space facilities.
Rubio also participated in the Food Physiology experiment. A variety of samples are collected and then placed in cold stowage to document the effect of dietary improvements on human physiology and the ability of those improvements to enhance adaptation to spaceflight.
Samples were also collected for the Host Pathogen experiment. This study identifies the spaceflight-induced changes in the human microbiome that causes a decrease in immune function and an increase in microbial virulence. Blood and saliva samples from crew members are collected before, during, and after spaceflight, to assess the clinical risks of infectious microbes and to develop countermeasures that restore immune function in astronauts.
The new Endeavour crew is continuing to adjust to life in orbit, while the Endurance Crew is preparing for its return to earth by cleaning, completing stowage and inventory tasks, and preparing personal items for return.
NASA and SpaceX continue to evaluate the weather for the return of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission from the International Space Station. Teams conducted a weather briefing overnight and decided to waive off the initial undocking opportunity for early Thursday, March 9, due to high winds at the splashdown sites. Teams currently target undocking for no earlier than Thursday evening, pending weather. The Crew-5 Dragon spacecraft remains healthy docked to the station and is configured for nominal return operations once weather conditions are favorable.
The space station is orbiting slightly higher today after the docked ISS Progress 83 cargo craft fired its engines for five minutes and 17 seconds this afternoon. The new orbital altitude readies the unoccupied Soyuz MS-22 crew ship for its upcoming departure following a coolant leak that was detected in December of last year.