Spacewalk Showdown: Swabbing for Microbes Surviving in the Vacuum of Space and Replacing Station Hardware

Astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli Prepares for Spacewalk Training

Astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli prepares for spacewalk training at Johnson Space Center’s Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory with assistance from astronaut Tracy C. Dyson. Credit: NASA/Josh Valcarcel

Spacewalk preparations and exercise gear maintenance were the primary tasks for the Expedition 70 crew aboard the International Space Station (ISS) on Tuesday, October 3. Hearing tests and a variety of science and hardware tasks rounded out the day’s plan for the orbital crewmates.

Upcoming Spacewalks

Three astronauts are stepping up preparations for a pair of spacewalks planned this month for science and maintenance. Both spacewalks, planned for October 12 and 20, will be broadcast live on NASA TV, on the agency’s app, and website.

The first spacewalk will see ESA (European Space Agency) Commander Andreas Mogensen and NASA Flight Engineer Loral O’Hara swabbing external station surfaces for microbes. They will carefully collect microbe samples from specific areas on the station using specialized tools. The samples will later be analyzed to determine the types of microbes that may survive in the vacuum of space. This will be the first spacewalk for both astronauts.

ESA Astronaut Andreas Mogensen

ESA Astronaut Andreas Mogensen. Credit: ESA

The second spacewalk will be with O’Hara going out once again, but this time with NASA Flight Engineer Jasmin Moghbeli who is going on her first spacewalk. The duo will remove faulty radio communications gear and install new solar array hardware during the six-and-half-hour excursion.

Spacesuit Test and Equipment Maintenance

Moghbeli tried on her spacesuit on Tuesday afternoon and tested its ability to communicate with mission controllers on the ground. Mogensen and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Satoshi Furukawa both assisted Moghbeli in the Quest airlock as she ensured her spacesuit was in operable condition.

Furukawa began his day with O’Hara inside the Destiny laboratory module replacing the orbital lab’s exercise cycle. The duo spent the morning uninstalling the workout hardware, updating its components, installing the new cycle, and then activating the new aerobic and cardiovascular gear.

Additional Tasks and Experiments

At the end of the day, O’Hara took turns with Roscosmos Flight Engineers Nikolai Chub and Oleg Kononenko to conduct a hearing test. Chub earlier installed a variety of cameras to monitor Earth’s upper atmosphere as well as accurately predict the station’s location in space. Kononenko and cosmonaut Konstantin Borisov would spend most of their day servicing a variety of Roscosmos hardware. The pair worked throughout the orbital lab working on electronics, communications, and life support gear.

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