During Expedition 69, crew members will conduct experiments studying how particular materials burn in microgravity to keep spacecraft safe, test a new tool for deep-space immune monitoring in orbit, continue work with 3D-cultured cardiac muscle tissue to assess human cardiac function in microgravity, and test samples for microorganisms from outside of the space station.
The Expedition 69 mission is officially underway following the undocking of the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft on Tuesday, March 28. The seven-member International Space Station (ISS) crew split its day on Wednesday as the four astronauts conducted space research while the three cosmonauts had the day off.
The uncrewed Soyuz MS-22 spaceship completed a six-month stay at the orbiting lab when it undocked from the Rassvet module at 5:57 a.m. EDT on Tuesday. The undocking marked the moment Expedition 69 began and Expedition 68 ended with Roscosmos cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev continuing his command aboard the space station. The passengerless MS-22 parachuted to a safe landing in Kazakhstan less than two hours later.
Meanwhile, science and health checks filled the day for the astronauts belonging to the Expedition 69 crew. Flight Engineers Frank Rubio of NASA and Sultan Alneyadi of UAE (United Arab Emirates) worked on the BioFabrication Facility testing its ability to print knee cartilage tissue for treating injuries in space and remote environments on Earth. The pair also participated in neck, shoulder, and leg vein scans using the Ultrasound 2 medical device.
The station’s three cosmonauts, including Prokopyev and Flight Engineers Dmitri Petelin and Andrey Fedyaev, relaxed on Wednesday taking time out for their daily exercise sessions. The trio from Roscosmos had prepared the MS-22 vehicle for its departure the day before.
The Expedition 69 patch reflects the mission of the International Space Station to enable long-term exploration of space, for the benefit of Earth. The unique mosaic design is inspired by the vintage, Art Deco stained glass window in Star City, Russia that provides a stylistic portrayal of the beauty of space exploration. The number “69” forms a circle to symbolize the international partnerships and collaboration that make the space station program possible. The Earth is the central element inside the “6,” as our home planet and the primary beneficiary of research onboard space station. The star shining from Earth, spanning multiple continents, represents the ground teams around the world who support every aspect of this expedition and ensure our safe return home. The space station itself signifies the contributions of thousands of people over the past several decades, whose vision and sustained efforts have made this miracle of a laboratory an unparalleled success. Looking towards the future, the next big steps in human space exploration are reflected in the Moon and Mars. The sun around Mars is symbolic of the human imagination, curiosity, and ingenuity that draws us to explore. The two white stars in the sky are taken directly from the Star City mural. The larger star represents the family and friends whose love and support makes this endeavor possible. The smaller star represents the explorers who came before us and helped pave the way to the stars.