Ongoing Crew Swap, Science Activities on Station this Week

Expedition 69 astronauts (from left) Frank Rubio and Sultan Alneyadi pose for a portrait during pizza night aboard the International Space Station.
Expedition 69 astronauts (from left) Frank Rubio and Sultan Alneyadi pose for a portrait during pizza night aboard the International Space Station.

Aboard the International Space Station on Wednesday, four new crew members are adjusting to their first week orbiting Earth. Meanwhile, another quartet of Expedition 69 flight engineers is preparing to end their six-month stay in space.

Eleven crew members from five countries are living and working together on the orbital outpost as two of its crews are in the middle of swapping places. New station flight engineers Jasmin Moghbeli and Andreas Mogensen, of NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) respectively, continued unpacking the SpaceX Dragon Endurance spacecraft throughout the day. In the afternoon, the duo joined NASA Flight Engineer Frank Rubio, who has been aboard the station for nearly a year, and reviewed station operations, systems, and procedures.

The other two new flight engineers, Satoshi Furukawa of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) and Konstantin Borisov of Roscosmos, also continued familiarizing themselves with life in weightlessness. The pair is learning how to make meals, exercise on the workout facilities, sleep in the crew quarters, and use the station’s bathroom, also known as the waste and hygiene compartment.

The station crew will fall back to seven members no earlier than Sept. 2 when the SpaceX Dragon Endeavour is due to return four flight engineers, who have been in space since March, back to Earth. NASA astronaut Stephen Bowen will command Endeavour leading NASA Pilot Woody Hoburg and Mission Specialists Sultan Alneyadi of UAE (United Arab Emirates) and Andrey Fedyaev of Roscosmos to a splashdown off the coast of Florida.

The Earth-bound foursome has been handing over its responsibilities to the newly arrived crew while preparing for the return to Earth’s gravity environment. The four crew mates this week have been packing Endeavour, reviewing deorbit and splashdown procedures, and talking to NASA and SpaceX ground support personnel.

Bowen and Hoburg still had time on Wednesday for ongoing research activities. Bowen rounded up science hardware for an upcoming space biology experiment. Hoburg inspected and activated an Astrobee free-flying robotic helper as engineers on the ground monitored its performance.

The longest-serving crew aboard the station has been orbiting Earth since Sept. 21, 2022. Rubio along with Commander Sergey Prokopyev and Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin are assisting with the crew swap activities. The trio from NASA and Roscosmos has also worked on cargo activities, space science, and standard health checks this week.

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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