Astronauts Study Skin Healing; Cosmonauts Ready for Robotic Arm Spacewalk

The European robotic arm extends out from the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module during a mobility test.
The European robotic arm extends out from the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module during a mobility test.

The Expedition 67 crew split up today with the astronauts studying wound healing techniques and the cosmonauts preparing for a spacewalk to prepare a new robotic arm for operations. A U.S. space freighter has also been given the “go” to return to Earth at the end of the week.

Researchers are exploring tissue regeneration in the International Space Station’s microgravity environment to develop new ways to heal wounds benefitting humans living in space and on Earth. The astronauts took turns throughout Tuesday investigating how spaceflight conditions, such as weightlessness and radiation, affect genetic expression that takes place during the healing process.

NASA Flight Engineers Kjell Lindgren and Jessica Watkins began the day’s first set of experiment operations taking place in the Kibo laboratory module’s Life Science Glovebox. Astronauts Bob Hines of NASA and Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA (European Space Agency) took over in the afternoon continuing the biology study that utilizes basic surgical techniques.

The skin healing experiment will wrap up on Wednesday when the astronauts load the research samples and other cargo inside the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship for analysis by scientists and engineers on Earth. Mission managers have approved Dragon’s departure for 11:05 a.m. EDT on Thursday when it will undock from the Harmony module’s forward port. The commercial cargo craft will parachute to a splashdown off the coast of Florida on Friday with over 4,000 pounds of cargo and research for retrieval.

Meanwhile, two cosmonauts are ready for their spacewalk to continue outfitting the European robotic arm (ERA) for payload operations on the orbiting lab’s Russian segment. Roscosmos spacewalkers Oleg Artemyev and Denis Matveev are finalizing their task list reviews and Orlan spacesuit checks today with assistance from Flight Engineer Sergey Korsakov.

Artemyev and Matveev are scheduled to exit the Poisk module’s airlock at 9:20 a.m. on Wednesday and spend about six-and-a-half hours servicing the ERA. The duo will install cameras on the ERA, move its external control panel, remove the robotic arm’s launch restraints, and test the arm’s grasping mechanism. Korsakov will monitor his cosmonaut crewmates during their excursion and help them in and out of their spacesuits. NASA TV, on the agency’s app and website, will begin its live spacewalk coverage at 9 a.m.

Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

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