Four Expedition 68 astronauts are enjoying Tuesday off after spending the weekend packing a U.S. cargo craft and readying it for departure on Monday. The International Space Station’s three cosmonauts spent their day concentrating on cardiac research while servicing a variety of orbital lab systems.
The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship is orbiting Earth following its undocking from the Harmony module’s space-facing port at 5:05 p.m. EST on Monday. Dragon will return about 4,400 pounds of station hardware and scientific cargo when it splashes down off the coast of Florida on Wednesday.
NASA astronauts Nicole Mann, Josh Cassada, and Frank Rubio along with Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) completed loading Dragon a couple of hours before it departed on Monday. The quartet worked over the weekend and into Monday carefully preserving and packing sensitive biological and physical research samples inside Dragon for retrieval and analysis in laboratories on Earth. All four flight engineers relaxed throughout Tuesday taking time off for quick medical checks, watering plants, and calling down to family members.
Meanwhile, the orbiting lab’s three Roscosmos cosmonauts stayed busy Tuesday with their standard research and maintenance schedule.
Commander Sergey Prokopyev partnered with Flight Engineers Dmitri Petelin and Anna Kikina taking turns attaching electrodes to themselves to measure their heart activity. Just one of numerous heart studies that have taken place on orbit, the investigation explores how living in space long-term affects the cardiovascular system.
Prokopyev also spent some time dismantling navigation components inside the ISS Progress 81 cargo ship. Petelin explored the physics of fluids exposed to vibrations, magnetic fields, and electric fields in microgravity. Kikina worked on orbital plumbing tasks then photographed crew activities on the station.
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