ISS Fires Engines To Dodge Space Debris While Awaiting Cargo Delivery

Earth From Space Station

The Expedition 69 crew at the ISS awaits cargo delivery from Roscosmos and the SpaceX Crew-7 mission launch. Amid these events, the crew engaged in gene therapy research and prep for new crew arrivals. Additionally, a safety maneuver was conducted to steer clear of orbital debris, without affecting planned missions. (Earth as seen from the International Space Station.) Credit: NASA

The Expedition 69 crew will receive a space delivery late Thursday night and a new crew will soon launch to the International Space Station (ISS). While the orbital residents were getting ready for both missions there was still some time for gene therapy research and lab maintenance tasks.

Roscosmos Progress 85 Cargo Arrival

Two cosmonauts, Commander Sergey Prokopyev and Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin, will be on duty monitoring the Roscosmos Progress 85 cargo craft during its automated docking planned for 11:50 p.m. EDT. During the morning, the duo practiced on the telerobotically operated rendezvous unit, or TORU, to remotely control an arriving spacecraft in the unlikely event the vehicle was unable to automatically dock. The Progress 85 is carrying three tons of food, fuel, and supplies the cosmonaut duo will begin unpacking about two hours after its arrival. The space freighter will remain docked to the Zvezda service module’s aft port for six months of cargo activities.

NASA SpaceX Crew-7 Preflight

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company’s Dragon spacecraft on top is seen after sunset on August 22, 2023, perched on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A as preparations continue for the Crew-7 mission at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA’s SpaceX Crew-7 mission is the seventh crew rotation mission of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

SpaceX Crew-7 Launch and Arrival

A mere 4 hours after the resupply ship’s arrival, the SpaceX Crew-7 mission was scheduled to launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center to the orbital lab. However, that launch has been scrubbed. Liftoff of the SpaceX Dragon Endurance spacecraft with four Commercial Crew members atop the company’s Falcon 9 rocket is now scheduled for 3:27 a.m. on Saturday.

ISS Preparations for Crew-7 Arrival

Endurance, commanded by NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli with Pilot Andreas Mogensen of ESA (European Space Agency) and Mission Specialists Satoshi Furukawa of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) and Konstantin Borisov, will automatically dock to the Harmony module’s space-facing port approximately one day after liftoff. About two hours later the foursome will enter the station, greet the Expedition 69 crew, and begin a six-month microgravity research mission.

Biotechnology Research Ongoing at ISS

Flight Engineers Stephen Bowen and Woody Hoburg, both from NASA, and Sultan Alneyadi from UAE (United Arab Emirates) prepared for Saturday’s Crew-7 arrival configuring the station for four new crew members. Bowen staged emergency equipment in the orbital lab’s U.S. segment which is standard procedure before a new crew arrives. Hoburg set up new crew quarters in the Columbus laboratory module. Alneyadi configured computers inside the cupola that will monitor Dragon Endurance’s arrival on Saturday morning.

While the mission preparations were underway, NASA Flight Engineer Frank Rubio focused his time on biotechnology research. He treated cell samples to seek ways to closely mimic the human central nervous system and brain environment for the Neuronix investigation. Results may provide paths for researchers to discover new therapies for treating neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Safety Maneuvers at the ISS

On Thursday, August 24, the International Space Station’s Zvezda service module engines were fired for 21.5 seconds, beginning at 11 a.m. EDT to maneuver the complex away from the predicted track of an orbital debris fragment. The maneuver will not affect the rendezvous of the Roscosmos Progress 85 cargo vessel or the launch of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-7 mission.

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