Astronauts Work on Science Gear, Cosmonauts Relax Before Spacewalk

Astronaut Frank Rubio works to install the NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer inside the Kibo laboratory module's airlock on April 20, 2023.
Astronaut Frank Rubio works to install the NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer inside the Kibo laboratory module’s airlock on April 20, 2023.

The Expedition 69 astronauts had their day full on Tuesday servicing a variety of science hardware and maintaining critical life support gear. The cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station cleared their schedule and relaxed before finalizing preparations for Friday’s spacewalk.

NASA Flight Engineer Frank Rubio began Tuesday removing a small satellite deployer from inside the Kibo laboratory module’s airlock. Astronauts install small satellites inside the device and place it in the airlock before it is depressurized. Kibo’s robotic arm grapples the deployer, places it in the vacuum of space, and points it away from the space station. Next, it deploys tiny satellites about the size of shoeboxes into Earth orbit for public and private research programs.

Rubio then moved into the Destiny laboratory module and inspected the Microgravity Science Glovebox that accommodates space physics and biology experiments and reported his findings to ground controllers. Afterward, he resupplied the Columbus laboratory module’s Human Research Facility (HRF) with sample collection kits, medical gloves, needles, and ultrasound components.

NASA Flight Engineer Stephen Bowen opened up Destiny’s Combustion Integrated Rack and swapped fuel bottles inside the research device that supports safe fuel, flame, and soot studies. Bowen then swapped carbon dioxide sensors and disconnected vent cables inside an artificial gravity generating incubator. At the end of the day, the four-time station visitor recorded an educational video to demonstrate space physics for high school students.

Bowen also spent a few moments assisting NASA Flight Engineer Woody Hoburg as he worked on Destiny’s carbon dioxide removal assembly (CDRA) that creates a safe breathing environment on the station. Hoburg worked throughout Tuesday replacing components and checking for leaks inside the life support apparatus.

Astronaut Sultan Alneyadi of UAE (United Arab Emirates) juggled several tasks on Tuesday as he worked on spacesuits, computers, life support gear, and science hardware. Alneyadi first checked batteries and cleaned the helmets that fit on the Extravehicular Mobility Units, or spacesuits. Then he loaded software on a tablet computer located in the Unity module. He also assisted Hoburg swapping components on the CDRA then replaced drawer handles on the Columbus HRF.

Cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev, Dmitri Petelin, and Andrey Fedyaev had the day off Tuesday aboard the orbital outpost. Prokopyev and Petelin are resting before they go on their third spacewalk since April on Friday. The duo will spend Wednesday and Thursday checking their Orlan spacesuits and reviewing the procedures they will use to deploy a radiator on the Nauka science module. Fedyaev will assist the cosmonauts in and out of their spacesuits and monitor their spacewalking activities.

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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