Household Tasks, Human Research on Station Before Cargo Missions Ends

Astronaut Frank Rubio has fun with fluid physics as he observes the behavior of a free-flying water bubble inside the space station.
Astronaut Frank Rubio has fun with fluid physics as he observes the behavior of a free-flying water bubble inside the space station.

Household maintenance tasks were the main objective aboard the International Space Station on Thursday as the Expedition 68 crew members configured crew quarters and serviced the orbiting lab’s toilet. The station residents also had time during the day for human research activities, robotics training, and upcoming cargo mission preparations.

NASA Flight Engineers Frank Rubio and Nicole Mann partnered together on Thursday afternoon testing power supply assemblies inside a pair crew quarters located in the Harmony module. The electrical devices were swapped between the two crew quarters to troubleshoot and recreate a fan failure signature.

Mann also gathered hardware and prepared the station’s new toilet so NASA Flight Engineer Josh Cassada could replace components inside the bathroom located in the Tranquility module. Rubio started his day charging spacesuit batteries and checking the power supply inside the Quest airlock.

Astronaut Koichi Wakata from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) strapped sensors to himself that measured his aerobic capacity during a workout session on an exercise cycle in the morning. Wakata also collected his urine samples and placed them in a science freezer for future analysis. The four-time station visitor later stowed research hardware completing a pair of similar experiments studying how the central nervous system adapts to weightlessness. The biology studies are helping doctors understand how the human body adapts to living and working in space on long-term missions.

Cosmonaut Anna Kikina of Roscosmos spent Thursday continuing to train on the European robotic arm. She practiced operating and controlling the robotic manipulator from inside the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module. Heart research was also on the agenda as Commander Sergey Prokopyev and Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin attached electrodes to themselves and measured their cardiac bioelectric activity while resting.

The ISS Progress 80 resupply ship is due to end its cargo mission this weekend when it undocks from the Poisk module on Sunday at 6:46 p.m. EDT. Prokopyev packed trash and obsolete gear inside the Progress 80 for disposal on Thursday afternoon. The cargo craft will reenter Earth’s atmosphere above the Pacific Ocean for a fiery, but safe destruction about three-and-a-half hours 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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