Orbital Maintenance on Wednesday Tops Cargo and Science Duties

City lights illuminate the country of China to the East China Sea in this nighttime photograph from the International Space Station.
City lights illuminate the country of China to the East China Sea in this nighttime photograph from the International Space Station.

Microgravity science is the main mission aboard the International Space Station, however on Wednesday, the Expedition 71 crew focused primarily on life support maintenance. Nevertheless, the orbital septet did find time for cargo operations and biomedical research during a busy day full of hardware swaps.

NASA Flight Engineers Tracy C. Dyson and Matthew Dominick kicked off Wednesday swapping out advanced orbital plumbing gear that took up most of their day. The duo worked in the Tranquility module, where the orbital outpost’s restroom is located, and disconnected a host of cables and gear to access the station’s catalytic reactor. Dyson did the majority of the preparation work before Dominick assisted her and replaced the old catalytic reactor with a new one. The reactor introduces oxygen in the restroom’s water recovery system and oxidizes its wastewater.

Dominick wrapped up his shift transferring cargo in and out of the Northrop Grumman Cygnus space freighter. Cygnus has been berthed to the Earth-facing port on the Unity module since Feb. 1 when it delivered 8,300 pounds of cargo and science experiments.

At the end of the day, NASA astronauts Jeanette Epps and Mike Barratt finalized Dyson’s and Dominick’s life support upgrade work. Epps first installed a hose and a temporary filter in Tranquility to enable startup of the new catalytic reactor. After the startup was completed, the duo cleaned up Tranquility and returned the module’s systems to their normal configuration.

The orbital outpost’s three cosmonauts had their day full of human research activities while ensuring the ongoing upkeep of systems in the station’s Roscosmos segment. Commander Oleg Kononenko and Flight Engineer Nikolai Chub participated in hearing checks together wearing headphones connected to a computer and responding to a series of audio tones. Kononenko then moved on and refilled an oxygen generator in the Zvezda service module.

When Chub completed his hearing exam, he joined Flight Engineer Alexander Grebenkin for a fitness evaluation on a treadmill. The duo each took turns jogging on the treadmill while wearing sensors measuring health parameters such as heart rate and breathing rate. Grebenkin earlier conducted cardiac research for a long-running Roscosmos investigation.

For the latest on Boeing’s Crew Flight Test with NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams targeted to launch to the orbital lab no earlier than 6:16 p.m. EDT on Friday May 17 please visit NASA’s blog. https://blogs.nasa.gov/boeing-crew-flight-test/

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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