Two Roscosmos cosmonauts conducted a spacewalk to activate the new European Robotic Arm (ERA) less than a day after the SpaceX Crew-4 mission arrived at the International Space Station (ISS). The next major mission event taking place will occur next week when four Expedition 67 astronauts complete their stay aboard the orbiting lab.
Russian cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev and Denis Matveev exited the station in their Orlan spacesuits at 10:58 a.m. EDT on Thursday, April 28, beginning the fifth spacewalk of the year. Fellow cosmonaut Sergey Korsakov assisted the spacewalkers from inside the ISS’s Russian segment as they released the ERA from its launch restraints on the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module and monitored the new robotic arm’s first motion.
The day before, the SpaceX Dragon Freedom crew ship, carrying four Crew-4 astronauts, docked to the Harmony module’s space-facing port at 7:37 p.m. EDT on April 27. Less than two hours later, NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, and Jessica Watkins with ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, entered the ISS beginning a four-and-a-half month research mission aboard the space station. The 11-person crew will live and work together until next week when the SpaceX Crew-3 mission ends.
Station Commander Tom Marshburn along with Flight Engineers Raja Chari, and Kayla Barron, all NASA astronauts, and ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer, are packing up to end their stay on the orbiting lab. The four astronauts representing the Commercial Crew Program are finalizing a six-month science mission aboard the space lab. NASA and SpaceX mission managers are planning for the quartet to enter the Dragon Endurance crew ship and undock from Harmony’s forward port for a splashdown off the coast of Florida next week.