Bone Healing Study Continues as SpaceX Crew-6 Mission Approaches

Astronauts (middle left to right) Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio pose with spacewalkers (far left and right) Nicole Mann and Koichi Wakata following the completion of a spacewalk on Jan. 20, 2023.
Astronauts (middle left to right) Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio pose with spacewalkers (far left and right) Nicole Mann and Koichi Wakata following the completion of a spacewalk on Jan. 20, 2023.

Wednesday was the last full day of research operations aboard the International Space Station to learn how to improve bone healing therapies both on Earth and in space. The Expedition 68 crew members also studied the human heart and plasma physics and set up Earth imagery hardware.

NASA astronauts Nicole Mann, Josh Cassada, and Frank Rubio and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata wrapped up three days of continuous research into bone growth. The quartet spent the day inside the Kibo laboratory module studying research samples in the Life Science Glovebox to understand the bone healing process in microgravity. Cassada will work on Thursday and Friday cleaning up the space biology hardware and completing sample processing.

Weightlessness inhibits bone tissue regeneration, or bone repair, and the Osteopromotive Bone Adhesive investigation seeks to reverse these effects on stem cells and bone tissue. Insights gained from the biology experiment may help doctors provide advanced treatments for bone injuries that occur in space and improve therapies for conditions on Earth such as osteoporosis.

Cardiac research in space is also very important as two cosmonauts joined each other on Wednesday morning learning how the circulatory system is impacted by long-term microgravity. Commander Sergey Prokopyev attached sensors to himself, with assistance from Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin, for the cardiac study. The experiment seeks insights into how the heart adapts to microgravity and to prepare for the effects of returning to Earth’s gravity months later.

Prokopyev also continued this week’s space physics work studying the behavior of plasma crystals, or clouds of highly charged particles, inside a specialized chamber. Petelin studied kept up his observations of fluids exposed to magnetic and electric fields in microgravity. Both studies have the potential to advance space and Earth-bound industries as well as improve fundamental knowledge.

Flight Engineer Anna Kikina of Roscosmos began her day pointing a camera outside station windows and photographing the external condition of the Nauka, Zvezda, and Rassvet modules. She finished her shift installing and activating gear that will acquire ultraviolet imagery of Earth’s nighttime atmosphere.

The next SpaceX crewed mission to the space station is soon approaching. The Crew-6 crewmates are Commander Stephen Bowen and Pilot Warren “Woody” Hoburg, both from NASA, and Mission Specialists Andrey Fedyaev from Roscosmos and Sultan Alnedayi from the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre. The quartet will lift off aboard SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour at 2:07 a.m. EST on Feb. 26 and dock to the Harmony module’s space-facing port just over half-a-day later.


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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