Microbes, Machines, & Milestones: An Exciting Week for Expedition 69 on Space Station

 Soyuz MS-23 Crew Ship Above Nigeria Cloudy Day

The Soyuz MS-23 crew ship is pictured docked to the Prichal docking module as the International Space Station orbited 262 miles above a cloudy Nigeria on the African continent. Credit: NASA

The Expedition 69 crew started its day on Friday, August 18, with health checks before moving on to biology and physics research at the end of the week. The International Space Station (ISS) residents also kept up their maintenance activities while preparing for next week’s cargo and crew missions.

Health Checks

NASA Flight Engineer Stephen Bowen began his morning setting up a periodic health evaluation for himself and fellow astronauts Woody Hoburg of NASA and Sultan Alneyadi of UAE (United Arab Emirates). The trio attached sensors to themselves connected to a tablet computer measuring vital signs such as temperature, blood pressure, pulse, and respiratory rate.

Maintenance and Experiments

Later, Bowen worked in the Kibo laboratory module and installed the Multi-use Variable-g Platform Cell-02 hardware to explore the evolution of microbes in space. Hoburg spent a few moments servicing seeds for the Plant Habitat-03 study before testing the ability to use Sidekick augmented reality goggles for maintenance on the COLBERT treadmill.

Pamir Mountain Range Glaciers

Glaciers in the Pamir mountain range located in The Republic of Tajikistan are pictured from the International Space Station as it orbited 264 miles above Central Asia. Credit: NASA

Alneyadi, with Bowen’s assistance, once again swapped graphene aerogel samples in the Microgravity Science Glovebox for a space manufacturing study. After replacing orbital plumbing gear, the UAE astronaut filmed short videos depicting space communication activities for junior high school students.

NASA’s Upcoming Record and Roscosmos Activities

NASA astronaut Frank Rubio took the day off on Friday to spend time on personal activities and his daily exercise regimen. On September 11, Rubio is due to break NASA’s single spaceflight record of 355 days set previously by astronaut Mark Vande Hei on March 30, 2022. Rubio arrived at the station on September 21, 2022, with Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin. The trio is due to return to Earth at the end of September.

Prokopyev ended his week testing a 3D printer and then exploring piloting and robotic techniques that may be used on future planetary missions. Petelin took an inventory of gear located throughout the station’s Roscosmos segment and then tested ways international crews and mission controllers can improve communications.

Roscosmos Flight Engineer Andrey Fedyaev spent Friday morning repairing a water regeneration system. He then spent the rest of the afternoon inspecting and cleaning laptop computers.

Upcoming Missions

On Sunday, the ISS Progress 83 cargo craft will end its six-month stay at the orbital lab when it undocks from the Zvezda service module’s aft port at 7:48 p.m. EDT. The ISS Progress 85 cargo craft will replace it on Thursday, August 24, when it docks to the same Zvezda port two days after launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Just four hours after the Progress 85 arrives, four crew members aboard the SpaceX Dragon crew spacecraft will launch from the Kennedy Space Center to the orbital outpost. The SpaceX Crew-7 mission will dock to the Harmony module’s space-facing just one day after its liftoff and the four crew mates will enter the orbiting lab to begin a six-month space research mission.

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