Space Station Crew Preps for Spacewalks and Ax-1 Private Astronaut Mission

Orbital Sunrise From Space Station

An orbital sunrise is pictured from the space station beaming across Earth’s horizon revealing the silhouetted clouds above the South China Sea. Credit: NASA

The seven-member Expedition 67 crew is gearing up for a pair of spacewalks scheduled for later this month while ensuring the International Space Station orbits Earth in tip-top shape. Meanwhile, the first private astronaut mission is less than one day from launching toward the orbital lab.

NASA astronaut Raja Chari is helping two cosmonauts get ready for two spacewalks planned for April to outfit the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module. Chari shared U.S. spacesuit components including helmet lights and cameras to Roscosmos Flight Engineers Oleg Artemyev and Denis Matveev as they organized their spacewalk tools and configured their Orlan spacesuits. The Russian duo is preparing to exit the space station toward the end of the month to outfit Nauka for the station’s third robotic arm, the European robotic arm.

Artemyev and Matveev started the day with pre-spacewalk muscle examinations before checking their spacesuits located in the Poisk module. The duo then took turns during the afternoon exploring how crew members might pilot spacecraft and robots on future planetary missions.

Station Commander Tom Marshburn and Flight Engineer Kayla Barron, both from NASA, joined ESA (European Space Agency) Flight Engineer Matthias Maurer in checking water containers in the Tranquility module and the Permanent multipurpose module. Marshburn also worked on an experiment demonstrating advanced ways to keep U.S. spacesuits cool while Maurer and Barron checked components on the station’s advanced resistive exercise device.

Roscosmos Flight Engineer Sergey Korsakov worked on transferring water from the ISS Progress 80 cargo craft into the station. The first time space-flyer also contributed to a study exploring how international crews and mission controllers interact on Earth and in space.

The first private astronaut mission from Axiom Space is on track to launch aboard the SpaceX Dragon Endeavour from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Friday at 11:17 a.m. Ax-1 Commander and former NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, along with Pilot Larry Connor and Mission Specialists Eytan Stibbe and Mark Pathy, would arrive at the space station on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. docking to the Harmony module’s space-facing port to begin their stay aboard the orbital lab.

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