Ax-3 Nears Departure as Station Crew Picks Up Research

Four Expedition 70 astronauts pose for a fun portrait inside their crew quarters aboard the International Space Station's Harmony module.
Four Expedition 70 astronauts pose for a fun portrait inside their crew quarters aboard the International Space Station’s Harmony module.

Four private astronauts comprising the Axiom Mission 3 (Ax-3) crew continue to target Tuesday for their departure from the International Space Station and return to Earth. In the meantime, the seven Expedition 70 crew members are continuing their schedule of advanced microgravity research and orbital lab maintenance.

Ax-3 Commander Michael López-Alegría readied the SpaceX Dragon Freedom spacecraft for its undocking scheduled for no earlier than 9:05 a.m. EST on Tuesday. The veteran astronaut transferred emergency gear from Dragon into the station then stowed completed science experiments and their samples inside science freezers aboard the commercial spacecraft. NASA Flight Engineer Jasmin Moghbeli assisted with the emergency hardware transfers stowing masks, gloves, sensors, and medical kits, back inside the station. Station Commander Andreas Mogensen from ESA (European Space Agency) also helped the Ax-3 crew as they cleaned up inside the station and prepared for the return to Earth.

Mission managers continue to evaluate weather at the potential splashdown sites off the coast of Florida. The hatch closing and undocking will be broadcast live on the NASA+ streaming service, NASA TV, the NASA app, YouTube, and the agency’s website. Learn how to stream NASA TV through a variety of platforms, including social media.

The rest of the Ax-3 crew, including Pilot Walter Villadei and Mission Specialists Alper Gezeravcı and Marcus Wandt, also packed Dragon with return cargo such as personal items, computer and electronics gear, and more science experiments. The private crew is spending the rest of the day exercising, videotaping crew activities, and looking at the Earth below from the cupola.

Science continued aboard the orbital outpost on Monday as the Expedition 70 crew explored an array of life science topics including how weightlessness affects immunity and botany. The orbital residents also worked inside a pair of cargo spaceships and maintained critical life support systems.

NASA Flight Engineers Loral O’Hara and Moghbeli took turns unpacking some of the several tons of cargo packed inside the Northrop Grumman Cygnus space freighter. The pair later helped the Ax-3 crew stow science experiments and computer gear inside Dragon. Flight Engineer Satoshi Furukawa from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) also assisted with the Cygnus cargo work then set up hardware to explore how plant-microbe interactions are affected in microgravity. Mogensen spent his morning processing his blood and saliva samples for an investigation exploring how a crew member’s immunity system changes during a space mission.

Roscosmos Flight Engineers Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub partnered together and tested the communications system inside the Progress 85 resupply ship before it departs the station next week. Kononenko then worked on cargo and fluid transfers inside the Progress 85. Chub moved into the Poisk module for computer maintenance. Flight Engineer Konstantin Borisov worked on hardware supporting a pair of Earth observation studies, inventoried ventilation hardware, and serviced orbital plumbing components.

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

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