Space Station Waits for Private Astronauts During Science and Spacewalk Preps

Japan’s Kibo Laboratory Module

Japan’s Kibo laboratory module is pictured as the space station orbited above the Pacific Ocean off the coast of South America. Credit: NASA

The seven-member Expedition 67 crew will wait an extra day to greet the first private astronauts who are due to launch this weekend to the International Space Station. In the meantime, the orbital residents focused on human research and physics today while gearing up for a pair of spacewalks later this month.

The first private astronaut mission, Axiom Space-1 (Ax-1), is now scheduled to launch no earlier than Friday at 11:17 a.m. EDT from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The SpaceX Dragon Endeavour, carrying Commander and former NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, Pilot Larry Connor and Mission Specialists Eytan Stibbe and Mark Pathy, would dock Saturday at 6:45 a.m. to the Harmony module’s space-facing port. NASA TV, on the agency’s app and website, will begin its live launch broadcast at 10 a.m.

The four astronauts and three cosmonauts living in space continued their activities today supporting ongoing space science and maintaining space station operations. The crew juggled a variety of microgravity investigations, packed a U.S. cargo ship, and reviewed procedures for two spacewalks to outfit a new Russian module.

NASA Flight Engineer Kayla Barron opened up the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace on Monday and swapped samples inside the research device that studies thermophysical properties of high temperature materials. Flight Engineer Matthias Maurer of ESA (European Space Agency) imaged his veins and arteries using sensors and an ultrasound device to examine the changes to blood vessels and the heart that take place in weightlessness.

Station Commander Tom Marshburn and Flight Engineer Raja Chari, both from NASA, spent some time in the Cygnus space freighter transferring cargo. Marshburn then updated emergency procedures ahead of the Ax-1 mission and the upcoming SpaceX Crew-3/Crew-4 crew swap. Chari serviced science freezers, checked components on an oxygen generator, then inspected the COLBERT treadmill.

Cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev and Denis Matveev are getting ready for two spacewalks currently targeted for April 18 and 28. The duo is reviewing procedures to exit the Poisk module in their Orlan spacesuits and prepare Russia’s Nauka multipurpose laboratory module for the European Robotic Arm. Cosmonaut Sergey Korsakov set up the EarthKAM experiment in the Harmony module to allow students on Earth to program the camera and photograph landmarks on the ground.

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