Space Station Crew Preps for Spacewalk and Dragon Spaceship Relocation

Eye of the Sahara Richat Structure ISS

The Richat Structure, also known as the “Eye of the Sahara,” an eroded geological dome in the nation of Mauritania, is pictured from the International Space Station as it orbited 259 miles above the African continent. At left, from top to bottom, are the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module’s forward port, the Prichal docking module, and the Soyuz MS-23 crew ship. Credit: NASA

Two cosmonauts from Roscosmos are preparing for the fifth spacewalk of the year on the ISS to relocate an experiment airlock. Simultaneously, four crew members are gearing up to move the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour to a new port. Amid these operations, the crew is also focusing on research involving robotics and bioprinting of organ-like tissues in microgravity.

Two cosmonauts are getting ready to exit the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday, May 3, to conduct the year’s fifth spacewalk. The rest of the Expedition 69 crew spent Tuesday preparing to relocate the SpaceX Crew Dragon spaceship, setting up robotic free-flyers, and working on life support maintenance.

Commander Sergey Prokopyev and Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin of Roscosmos are finalizing their procedure reviews and completing their Orlan spacesuit configurations today ahead of a spacewalk planned to start at 4:05 p.m. EDT (1:05 p.m. PDT) on Wednesday. The duo will spend about six-and-a-half hours removing an experiment airlock from the Rassvet module and then installing it on the Nauka science module. Flight Engineer Andrey Fedyaev will be inside the station assisting the spacewalkers and maneuvering the European robotic arm with the airlock in its grip.

Cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin During Spacewalk

Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin conduct a six-hour and 25-minute spacewalk on November 17, 2022, in their Orlan spacesuits to transfer a radiator from the Rassvet module to the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module for future installation. The duo is pictured tethered to the Rassvet module with the Soyuz MS-22 crew ship docked at top. Credit: NASA

Coming up on Saturday, four crew members will enter the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour and move the spaceship to a new station port. NASA Flight Engineers Stephen Bowen and Woody Hoburg will command and pilot, respectively, Endeavour while flanked by Flight Engineers Sultan Alneyadi of UAE (United Arab Emirates) and Fedyaev of Roscosmos. The quartet will undock from the Harmony module’s space-facing port at 7:10 a.m. and then redock to Harmony’s forward port at 7:53 a.m.

The quartet joined each other on Tuesday and checked the pressure suits they will wear during their short ride inside Dragon. The foursome also reviewed their relocation procedures, checked vehicle hatches, and configured the spacecraft cabin.

NASA TV is covering both the spacewalk and the Dragon relocation activities live on the agency’s app and website. Spacewalk coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday and the Dragon relocation broadcast begins at 6 a.m. on Saturday.

Astrobees on ISS

Animation of Astrobees on the International Space Station. Credit: NASA

Robotics and bioprinting were the top research priorities on Tuesday in the midst of the spacewalk and Dragon preparations. Hoburg turned on an Astrobee robotic free-flyer in the Kibo laboratory module during the morning and tested its operations in conjunction with mission controllers. The robotics work is being done to demonstrate ways to control the free flyers using student-written code. NASA Flight Engineer Frank Rubio worked on the BioFabrication Facility (BFF) replacing and installing components. The BFF is designed to print organ-like tissues in microgravity and learn how to manufacture whole, fully functioning human organs in space.

Bowen and Sultan partnered together during the morning inside the Destiny laboratory module working on life support gear. The duo took turns collecting water samples and replacing components from inside Destiny’s oxygen generation system.

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