Spacewalk Preps Continue as Cosmonaut Reaches Milestone

An aurora swirls above the Indian Ocean in this photograph from the International Space Station as it orbited 266 miles above Earth.
An aurora swirls above the Indian Ocean in this photograph from the International Space Station as it orbited 266 miles above Earth.

Spacesuits and eye checks filled the schedule on Tuesday as the Expedition 71 crew gears up for a trio of spacewalks planned for this month. The International Space Station residents also kept their research and lab maintenance duties while unpacking a new cargo ship.

NASA Flight Engineers Matthew Dominick and Mike Barratt started their morning inside the Quest airlock preparing suits and equipment for upcoming spacewalks. The duo then joined fellow NASA astronauts Tracy C. Dyson and Jeanette Epps after lunchtime for a spacewalk conference with specialists on the ground. Afterward, Dyson and Dominick partnered together organizing and configuring a variety of spacewalk tools in Quest. NASA will announce the spacewalk details and spacewalkers in an upcoming media advisory and news briefing.

Earlier, Epps powered on a pair of Astrobee robotic free flyers for an operations test. She also set up a pair of Kubik research incubators inside the Columbus laboratory module. At the end of the day, Epps gathered in the Harmony module with Barratt and Dominick for eye checks using a medical imaging device viewing the cornea, retina, optic nerve.

Station commander and Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko who is on his fifth mission aboard the orbital outpost has accumulated 1,000 days in microgravity as of June 4. The previous record holder was cosmonaut Gennady Padalka who held the record since Sept, 11, 2017, when he landed on Earth completing the Expedition 44 mission and gaining 879 cumulative days in space.

Kononenko joined Flight Engineer Nikolai Chub on Tuesday and continued offloading some of the three tons of cargo packed inside the recently arrived Progress 88 cargo craft. Fellow cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin wrapped up an experiment session and stowed hardware that images Earth’s upper atmosphere in ultraviolet wavelengths. Afterward, he studied ways international crews and mission controllers can improve communications to inform crew training and ensure mission success.

Teams at NASA and Boeing confirmed Monday the company’s Starliner spacecraft, ULA (United Launch Alliance) Atlas V rocket, and ground support equipment are healthy and ready for the next launch attempt. The first Starliner flight with NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams, known as NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test, is targeted to liftoff at 10:52 a.m. EDT Wednesday, June 5, to the International Space Station for about a one week stay aboard the microgravity laboratory.

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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