Space Station Crew Preps for Axiom Mission 3 While Decoding Spaceborne Health Mysteries

SpaceX Dragon Freedom Spacecraft Docked to Space Station

The SpaceX Dragon Freedom spacecraft is pictured docked to the space-facing port on the International Space Station’s Harmony module. Dragon Freedom carried four Axiom Mission-2 astronauts to the orbital lab on May 22, 2023, including Commander Peggy Whitson, Pilot John Shoffner, and Mission Specialists Ali Alqarni and Rayyanah Barnawi. Credit: NASA

Advanced drug treatments, virtual reality care, and microbial analysis filled the science schedule for the Expedition 70 crew on Thursday, January 11. The orbital residents are also getting ready for the next private astronaut mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

NASA Flight Engineer Loral O’Hara worked in the Harmony module servicing samples for a study seeking to improve treatments for respiratory conditions. The Gaucho Lung investigation seeks to optimize the delivery of drugs into the human airways and may also benefit the healthcare and food industries. Fellow NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli set up the experiment gear, simulating the mucosal lining in the human lung, for O’Hara in Harmony’s maintenance work area.

Aurora in Night Sky From Space Station

An aurora shimmers in the night sky above Earth as the International Space Station soared 262 miles over Quebec. Credit: NASA

Moghbeli began her day sequencing DNA samples for the BioMole study demonstrating hardware that can analyze microbes to protect crew health and spacecraft life support systems. Afterward, she moved on and inspected spacewalk safety tethers, recorded an educational video for students on Earth, then installed decontamination hardware inside the Life Science Glovebox.

Commander Andreas Mogensen of ESA (European Space Agency) also videotaped himself performing simple space experiments to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) activities for students. Mogensen removed a freezer from the Life Science Glovebox and cleaned spacesuit helmets. Finally, the ESA astronaut watched a 360-degree movie wearing virtual really goggles as part of an experiment to help astronauts cope with isolation and confinement on long-term space missions.

Perth Australia From Space Station

Perth, the capital of Western Australia with a population of 2.2 million on the coast of the Indian Ocean, is pictured from the International Space Station as it orbited 263 miles above. The Canning River merges with the Swan River before exiting into the Indian Ocean. Credit: NASA

Flight Engineer Satoshi Furukawa of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) spent Thursday working on a variety of biology research gear and preparing for the next private astronaut mission. He relocated the Protein Crystal Research Facility located in the Kibo laboratory module ahead of planned maintenance. Next, he stowed hardware used to study reproductive health and bone loss in microgravity. Finally, Furukawa installed science gear in EXPRESS racks in preparation for upcoming research planned for Axiom Space’s third private astronaut mission planned to launch next week.

Four private astronauts representing the United States, Italy, Turkey, and Sweden are scheduled to launch to the station aboard the SpaceX Dragon Freedom spacecraft at 5:11 p.m. EST on January 17. The Axiom Mission 3 (Ax-3) quartet, commanded by Michael Lopez-Alegria from the U.S. and piloted by Walter Villadei from Italy, will dock to the Harmony module’s forward port at 5:15 a.m. on January 19. The duo will be joined by Ax-3 Mission Specialists Alper Gezeravci from Turkey and Marcus Wandt from Sweden for two weeks of research and education activities aboard the orbital outpost.

Roscosmos Progress 86 Cargo Craft Docked to Space Station

The Roscosmos Progress 86 cargo craft is pictured docked to the International Space Station’s Poisk module. The Progress 86 docked to Poisk on December 3, 2023, delivering almost three tons of food, fuel, and supplies for the Expedition 70 crew and will stay docked until late May. Credit: NASA

Back on the space station, veteran cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko continued his weeklong inspections inside the Zvezda service module. In the afternoon, he checked Zvezda’s communication systems and then worked on sound silencing components in the Nauka science module.

Roscosmos Flight Engineer Nikolai Chub also worked throughout Thursday on Zvezda maintenance and stowage activities. Flight Engineer Konstantin Borisov installed and operated Earth observation hardware before replacing life support gear inside Nauka at the end of the day.

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