Latest Tech Upgrade on ISS: High-Performance Modular Robotic Arm

GITAI Autonomous Robotic Arm

GITAI’s 1.5-meter-long autonomous dual robotic arm system (S2). The S2 will be mounted external to the International Space Station (ISS) on the Nanoracks Bishop Airlock and perform on-orbit services, including maintenance, inspection, and life-extension operations for satellites. Credit: GITAI

Equipment installs and station maintenance topped the in-orbit schedule aboard the International Space Station (ISS) on Tuesday, February 13. The Expedition 70 crew members expanded on work that began yesterday while completing some maintenance around the station as they await the arrival of an upcoming cargo craft.

The Progress 87 cargo craft is scheduled to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 10:25 p.m. EST on Wednesday, February 14. Loaded with nearly three tons of food, fuel, and supplies, Progress will dock at the station around 1:12 a.m. Saturday, February 17.

As one cargo resupply ship readies for launch, two cosmonauts—Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub—were on duty last night, February 12, to monitor the departure of the Progress 85 cargo craft. Progress undocked from the orbital lab at 9:09 p.m. before it reentered Earth’s atmosphere three hours later and harmlessly burned up over the Pacific Ocean.

Roscosmos Progress 81 Resupply Ship

The ISS Progress 81 resupply ship from Roscosmos is pictured moments after undocking from the Zvezda service module’s rear port. Credit: NASA

Kononenko and Chub had a light duty day afterward, focusing on cargo audits and preparations for future experiments.

Meanwhile, ESA (European Space Agency) Commander Andreas Mogensen spent the bulk of his day working in the Nanoracks Bishop Airlock. He installed the Nanoracks-GITAI S2 modular robotic arm, which demonstrates the design, build, and operations of extravehicular robotic systems. This tech demonstration aims to aid in the development of robots for in-space assembly and manufacturing, supporting future commercial lunar missions.

NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli spent her day on a few different tasks, collecting blood pressure data for the Vascular Aging investigation, stowing the Bio-Monitor garment and headband she donned yesterday, and collecting atmosphere samples throughout the station.

Astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli in Front of Advanced Plant Habitat

NASA astronaut and Expedition 70 Flight Engineer Jasmin Moghbeli poses in front of the Kibo laboratory module’s Advanced Plant Habitat housing tomato plants for an experiment investigating how the plant immune system adapts to spaceflight and how spaceflight affects plant production. Credit: NASA

NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara assisted Mogensen with the Nanoracks-GITAI S2 install before photographing Plant-Microbe Interactions in Space (APEX-10) petri plates, which launched aboard Northrop Grumman’s 20th commercial resupply mission to the station. The new investigation examines whether beneficial microbes can mitigate some of the negative effects the space environment can have on plant growth and development.

In the Kibo Laboratory, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) Flight Engineer Satoshi Furukawa spent his day recording space demonstrations suggested by students for JAXA’s Try Zero-Gravity educational activity. Students can vote for and suggest tasks for JAXA astronauts to carry out on station, such as putting in eye drops, performing push-ups on the ceiling, and more, to allow the youth to interact with station residents and learn about living and working in microgravity.

In the Roscosmos segment, Flight Engineer Konstantin Borisov completed some orbital maintenance tasks and ran a distillation cycle on the Roscosmos water management system.

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