Cargo, Research Work Ongoing as Commercial Crew Missions Announced

UAE (United Arab Emirates) astronaut Sultan Alneyadi poses with a free-flying AstroBee robotic helper inside the space station's Kibo laboratory module.
UAE (United Arab Emirates) astronaut Sultan Alneyadi poses with a free-flying AstroBee robotic helper inside the space station’s Kibo laboratory module.

The Expedition 69 crew members continue unpacking the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship in the midst of human research and pharmaceutical studies aboard the International Space Station. NASA and its commercial crew partners have also announced upcoming missions to the station.

Flight Engineers Frank Rubio of NASA and Sultan Alneyadi of UAE (United Arab Emirates) took turns working inside the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft on Thursday. The duo has been offloading some of the 6,200 pounds new research gear and crew supplies packed inside the Cargo Dragon. The U.S. commercial space freighter will remain docked to the Harmony module’s forward port until mid-April when it will return to Earth filled with completed science experiments and other cargo for retrieval and analysis.

Rubio started his day pedaling on the station’s exercise bike while attached to sensors to measure his aerobic capacity in microgravity. Afterward, he performed research work in the Columbus laboratory module to understand how the different gravity levels of the Moon, Mars, and beyond may affect the biomanufacturing of pharmaceuticals.

Alneyadi’s first task of the day was to install an incubator in the Kibo laboratory module and later activate it in the afternoon. He also collected surface samples throughout the space station for microbial analysis back on Earth.

Station Commander Sergey Prokopyev was joined by Rubio and Roscosmos Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin during the morning checking their Soyuz launch and entry suits for leaks. Prokopyev and Petelin then tested communications with the ISS Progress 83 cargo craft docked to the Zvezda service module’s rear port. Flight Engineer Andrey Fedyaev worked throughout Thursday on computer maintenance and orbital plumbing tasks.

NASA and Boeing now are targeting no earlier than Friday, July 21, for the agency’s Boeing Crew Flight Test (CFT) to the International Space Station, pending coordination for the U.S Eastern Range availability. The new target date provides NASA and Boeing the necessary time to complete subsystem verification testing and close out test flight certification products and aligns with the space station manifest and range launch opportunities.

NASA and SpaceX are targeting mid-August for the launch of Crew-7, the next rotational mission to the International Space Station.

Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter attached to the Unity module’s Earth-facing port fired its engines today for over 15 minutes today boosting the station’s orbit. The orbital reboost is the first of three that is positioning the orbiting lab for the upcoming launch and docking of the ISS Progress 84 cargo craft planned for late May. The maneuver also continues the certification process for using the Cygnus vehicle as an additional reboost capability.

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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