NASA Astronauts “Go” for Spacewalk To Work on Radio Communications Hardware

Expedition 71 and Crew Flight Test Members Pose for Team Portrait

The seven Expedition 71 crew members gather with the two Crew Flight Test members for a team portrait aboard the space station. In the front from left are, Suni Williams, Oleg Kononenko, and Butch Wilmore. Second row from left are, Alexander Grebenkin, Tracy C. Dyson, and Mike Barratt. In the back are, Nikolai Chub, Jeanette Epps, and Matthew Dominick. Credit: NASA

For the orbital residents aboard the International Space Station (ISS) on Tuesday, June 11, the prime responsibilities were spacewalk preparations and genetic research. The Expedition 71 crew also worked on futuristic piloting studies and more eye and ear checks.

Spacewalk for Astronauts Dyson and Dominick

Mission managers gave NASA astronauts Tracy C. Dyson and Matthew Dominick the “go” to begin a six-and-a-half-hour spacewalk at 8 a.m. EDT on Thursday. The duo will work outside in the vacuum of space removing communications hardware, known as the radio frequency group, then sampling for microorganisms potentially living on the outside of the orbital outpost. This will be Dyson’s fourth spacewalk and Dominick’s first.

Boeing’s Starliner Spacecraft Docked to the Harmony Module

This view from a window on the cupola overlooks a portion of the International Space and shows the partially obscured Starliner spacecraft from Boeing docked to the Harmony module’s forward port. Credit: NASA

The duo joined each other after lunchtime reviewing spacewalk safety procedures and printing checklists they will wear on their spacesuit cuffs. Toward the end of the day, the spacewalkers gathered with NASA Flight Engineers Mike Barratt and Jeanette Epps and called down to mission controllers to discuss readiness for Thursday’s spacewalk.

Mission managers discussed the upcoming spacewalk details during a news conference on Tuesday afternoon:

Biomedical Research and Crew Health Monitoring

Barratt earlier scanned Dyson’s eyes with the Ultrasound 2 device imaging her cornea, lens, and optic nerve. Dominick recorded a video greeting for an audience in Colorado as Epps swapped water tanks inside the Tranquility module.

Starliner astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams spent their day on biomedical activities and gene sequence training. Wilmore took an inventory of the Human Research Facility checking items such as blood tube kits, saliva sample packs, gloves, and more. Williams studied procedures to collect microbe samples, extract their DNA, and sequence their genes to learn how to identify bacteria and fungi living in station water systems.

Soyuz MS-25 Crew Ship Above South America

The Soyuz MS-25 crew ship is pictured docked to the Prichal docking module as the International Space Station orbited 258 miles above South America. Highlights in the background of this photograph include Lake Titicaca and the snow-capped Andes mountiain range. Credit: NASA

Physical Fitness and Station Maintenance

Also on Tuesday, cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub took turns jogging on a treadmill while attached to electrodes recording their health data for a physical fitness test. The duo also worked on electronics gear swaps, life support maintenance, and station window inspections. Flight Engineer Alexander Grebenkin studied experimental spacecraft and robotic piloting techniques that may be used to train crew members on planetary missions. He also conducted a hearing test wearing headphones connected to a computer and responding to a series of tones.

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