From Health Checks To Rocket Decks: Astronauts Engaged With Science Amid Launch Preps

Expedition 70 Soyuz Rocket

The Soyuz rocket is seen after being rolled out by train to the launch pad at Site 31, Tuesday, September 12, 2023, at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Expedition 70 NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara, Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko, and Nikolai Chub are scheduled to launch aboard their Soyuz MS-24 spacecraft on September 15. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

On the International Space Station, Tuesday, September 12, was a day focused on health research and science hardware maintenance for the Expedition 69 crew. The Soyuz MS-24 rocket to launch the next crew to live aboard the orbiting outpost has also rolled out to its launch pad.

Four flight engineers kicked off the day with a health examination checking vital signs such as temperature, blood pressure, pulse, and respiratory rate. NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli set up the medical gear, including the sensors and software that recorded the biomedical data, inside the Destiny laboratory module. She then joined Frank Rubio of NASA along with international astronauts Satoshi Furukawa and Andreas Mogensen for the periodic health checks.

Laboratory Activities and Preparations

Moghbeli moved on to the Columbus laboratory module reorganizing the ESA (European Space Agency) research facility and swapping research and cargo racks. She was making space inside Columbus to accommodate new exercise gear that will keep astronauts healthy and in shape during long-term space missions.

Expedition 69 Flight Engineers Join Each Other for Lunch

Expedition 69 Flight Engineers (from left) Jasmin Moghbeli and Frank Rubio, both from NASA, and Satoshi Furukawa of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) join each other for lunch aboard the International Space Station’s Unity module. Credit: NASA

Mogensen of ESA attached breathing gear and sensors to himself and pedaled on an exercise cycle for an investigation measuring an astronaut’s aerobic capacity in microgravity. Furukawa of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) assisted Mogensen in setting up the exercise gear. He then serviced samples inside the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace, a high-temperature research device that safely measures thermophysical properties of a variety of materials.

Kibo Laboratory and Ionospheric Plasma Research

In the Kibo laboratory module, Rubio worked readying a plasma monitor for placement outside the orbital outpost and into the external microgravity environment. The ionospheric plasma research device will be robotically installed on the Bartolomeo science platform. After a series of checkouts, it will begin studying how upper atmosphere phenomena like auroras affect radio and satellite signals.

Expedition 70 Soyuz Rollout

The Soyuz MS-24 rocket that will launch three crew members to the space station on Friday, September 15, is pictured standing at its launch pad in Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Microbiology and Cargo Operations

Microbiology and cargo transfers were the focus for the orbiting lab’s three cosmonauts throughout Tuesday. Roscosmos Flight Engineer Konstantin Borisov spent the day swabbing station surfaces for microbes and then stowing the samples for later analysis. Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin studied how to maintain safe and sterile conditions for space biology research. Commander Sergey Prokopyev checked items for packing inside the Soyuz MS-23 crew ship that will return him, Petelin, and Rubio back to Earth at the end of September.

At the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the International Space Station’s Expedition 69-70 crew, Soyuz Commander Oleg Kononenko and Flight Engineer Nikolai Chub of Roscosmos and NASA Flight Engineer Loral O’Hara participated in a variety of activities as they prepared for their upcoming mission on the International Space Station. Kononenko, Chub, and O’Hara are set to launch Sept. 15 from Baikonur in the Soyuz MS-24 spacecraft for long duration missions on the outpost. The footage includes the crew’s arrival in Baikonur, their Soyuz fit checks in the Cosmodrome’s Integration Facility, and other training milestones. Credit: NASA

Launch Preparations at Baikonur Cosmodrome

Meanwhile, at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the Soyuz MS-24 rocket has rolled out to its launch pad counting down to a lift-off at 11:44 a.m. EDT on Friday. The Soyuz crew ship will carry NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub on a short ride to the station that will see them dock to the Rassvet module at 2:56 p.m. the same day.

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