The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Dragon cargo craft atop stands at the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. More than 5,800 pounds of new science experiments and crew supplies are packed inside Dragon awaiting a liftoff tonight at 8:44 p.m. EDT.
The U.S. commercial resupply ship will orbit Earth for a day-and-a-half before catching up to the International Space Station on Saturday. Expedition 67 Flight Engineers Bob Hines and Jessica Watkins of NASA will be on duty monitoring Dragon during its automated approach and rendezvous until it automatically docks to the Harmony module’s forward port at 11:20 a.m.
Hines, Watkins, and NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren are off-duty today relaxing before kicking off a weekend of preparations for the arrival of the SpaceX Dragon. The trio will spend Friday configuring station research hardware to accommodate the new science experiments as well as reviewing Dragon’s rendezvous and cargo operations. Hines and Watkins will open Dragon’s hatch about an hour-and-half after docking on Saturday. The duo will then be joined by Lindgren and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti to begin unpacking and activating critical research.
Cristoforetti was busy on Friday working on other ongoing space station experiments. She first reviewed procedures for an experiment that uses metal surfaces with different textures and properties as a way to prevent microbial growth in microgravity. Afterward, she connected the Kubik temperature-controlled incubator to the Columbus laboratory module’s power supply. Cristoforetti also turned on the Astrobee robotic free-flyers that began remotely maneuvering inside the Kibo laboratory module using algorithms programmed by students on Earth.
Commander Oleg Artemyev and Flight Engineer Denis Matveev participated in a fitness evaluation on Thursday morning. The cosmonauts took turns pedaling on an exercise cycle with sensors attached to themselves that monitored and recorded their cardiac activity. Flight Engineer Sergey Korsakov worked on Russian ventilation systems before videotaping and photographing crew activities on the station.
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