Expedition 70 on ISS: Spacewalk Prep, Coolant Concerns, CEVIS Systems, and CIPHER Studies

Russian Spacewalkers Oleg Kononenko and Sergey Prokopyev

Russian spacewalkers Oleg Kononenko (suit with red stripes) and Sergey Prokopyev (suit with blue stripes) work outside the International Space Station over 250 miles above Earth during a seven-hour, 45-minute spacewalk on December 11, 2018. Credit: NASA

The seven orbital residents of the International Space Station kept busy on Tuesday, October 24, preparing for a round of upcoming spacewalks. While reviewing procedures and prepping tools were at the forefront of today’s tasks, the Expedition 70 crew members also had some time for station maintenance activities and health exams.

Two cosmonauts are gearing up to exit the station’s Poisk module tomorrow at 1:55 p.m. EDT for a planned seven-hour spacewalk. Flight Engineers Nikolai Chub and Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos had a light duty morning before preparing the Orlan suits they will wear outside of the station to install communications hardware, deploy a nanosatellite, and inspect the external backup radiator that experienced a coolant leak.

Coolant Leak Contamination Risk Measures

As a result of detailed analysis of contamination risk after a coolant loop leak occurred on the backup radiator of the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module, the NASA and Roscosmos teams have agreed to implement post-spacewalk procedures to reduce traces of coolant from entering the International Space Station. The analysis, imagery review, and other testing performed has concluded that the quantities of contaminate entering space station and risk to systems is expected to be very low. However, the mitigations were agreed to in an abundance of caution to keep the risk as low as possible for hardware inside the space station.

At the end of the Roscosmos spacewalk on Wednesday, October 25, before reentering the Poisk airlock, the two spacewalking cosmonauts as usual will inspect the Roscosmos Orlan spacesuits and the tools used during the spacewalk to look for signs of coolant and wipe off any coolant as necessary. The cosmonauts also will wipe down their suits and tools as usual after repressurization to further reduce introduction of trace contaminates into the space station environment. Additional filtration will then be used inside the space station in order to quickly scrub the atmosphere of any remaining traces of contaminant.

Expedition 70 Crew Members Pose for Portrait Destiny Module

(From left) Expedition 70 Commander Andreas Mogensen of ESA (European Space Agency); and Flight Engineers Loral O’Hara and Jasmin Moghbeli, both from NASA; and Satoshi Furukawa of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), pose for a portrait aboard the International Space Station’s Destiny laboratory module. The quartet is showing off crew active dosimeters that monitor the amount of radiation astronauts are exposed to in the microgravity environment. Credit: NASA

Upgrades and Preparation for Subsequent Spacewalk

Flight Engineer Loral O’Hara of NASA teamed up with Commander Andreas Mogensen of ESA (European Space Agency) in the morning to wrap up the installation of the new Teal CEVIS system, an upgrade to the International Space Station’s bicycle. The two then split up duties, O’Hara moving onto prep for next week’s spacewalk with Flight Engineer Jasmin Moghbeli of NASA.

Both first-time spacewalkers will exit the station on Monday, October 30 at 8:05 a.m. to remove the Radio Frequency Group and replace hardware on a solar array. The duo spent some time reviewing procedures and collecting and configuring tools they’ll use during their six-and-a-half-hour excursion. In the evening, Moghbeli operated tomography hardware and scanned O’Hara’s eyes for the ongoing CIPHER investigation. CIPHER, or Complement of Integrated Protocols for Human Exploration Research, is an all-encompassing, total-body approach that examines how humans adapt to spaceflight.

Routine Duties and Nauka Module Inspection

After breakfast, Flight Engineer Satoshi Furukawa of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) prepped cargo for return on SpaceX’s 29th cargo mission scheduled for launch no earlier than November 5. Afterward, Furukawa was joined by Mogensen to review robotics procedures they will use next week when O’Hara and Moghbeli are outside of the orbital lab.

Following this, Flight Engineer Konstantin Borisov of Roscosmos was joined by Chub and Kononenko late afternoon for inspections and assessments of the Nauka module.

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