From Spacesuit Scrubs to DNA Sequencing: A Busy Week at ISS

Northrop Grumman Cygnus Space Freighter Above Storm in Atlantic Ocean

Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter, with one of its cymbal-shaped UltraFlex solar arrays, is pictured attached to the Unity module’s Earth-facing port on the International Space Station. The orbital outpost was soaring 261 miles above a storm in the Atlantic Ocean at the time of this photograph on September 1, 2023. Credit: NASA

Human research and spacesuit work topped the schedule for the Expedition 69 crew aboard the International Space Station (ISS) at the end of the week. The orbital residents also analyzed microbes, maintained life support systems, and worked on cargo transfers.

Researchers on the ground continuously investigate how living in space affects astronauts to keep crews healthy. The crew members provide blood samples and other specimens during their mission for examination on the orbital outpost or in laboratories on the ground. They also attach various sensors to themselves to measure their physiological reactions while at rest, exercising, or even working. The data is downlinked in real-time or later to help doctors understand how weightlessness affects their bodies.

Physical Exercise and Health Studies in Orbit

Two astronauts, Jasmin Moghbeli of NASA and Satoshi Furukawa of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), took turns pedaling on an exercise cycle for a workout study in the Destiny laboratory module. The duo wore breathing gear and cardiac sensors for the investigation monitoring their aerobic fitness. Moghbeli later sequenced DNA from microbe samples collected from the potable water dispenser. Furukawa moved on and inventoried medical supplies inside the Human Research Facility.

Flight Engineer Andreas Mogensen of ESA (European Space Agency) wrapped up four days of an immunity study on Friday. He removed experiment hardware, stowed blood samples in a science freezer, and disconnected the Kubik research incubator. Mogensen was helping doctors learn how microgravity affects cellular immune functions and to monitor the human immune system in space.

Astronaut Frank Rubio Works Inside the Quest Airlock

NASA astronaut and Expedition 68 Flight Engineer Frank Rubio is pictured working inside the International Space Station’s Quest airlock. Credit: NASA

Spacesuit Maintenance and Roscosmos Activities

NASA Flight Engineer Frank Rubio worked in the Quest airlock scrubbing cooling loops in a pair of U.S. spacesuits. After Rubio’s cooling loop work was completed, Moghbeli took over, deconfigured the spacesuits, and then stowed them in Quest.

In the Roscosmos segment of the orbiting lab, Commander Sergey Prokopyev serviced docking hardware, jogged on a treadmill for a fitness evaluation, and then began packing items inside the Soyuz MS-23 crew ship. The two cosmonaut flight engineers, Dmitri Petelin and Konstantin Borisov, split their day between collecting station microbe samples for analysis, replacing life support hardware, and disposing of trash and used hardware inside the Roscosmos Progress 84 cargo craft.

The space station is orbiting slightly higher after the Roscosmos Progress 85 cargo craft fired its engines for 21 minutes and 55 seconds Friday afternoon. The orbital reboost sets up the correct phasing for the Soyuz MS-24 spacecraft docking on September 15.

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