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Beyond Gravity: ISS Crew Works Human Research and Cleans Up After Spacewalk

Oct 15, 2023

By NASAMay 16, 2023

The Soyuz MS-23 crew ship is pictured docked to the Prichal docking module as the International Space Station orbited 264 miles above Queensland, Australia, near the coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria on May 11, 2023. Credit: NASA

The Expedition 69 crew is studying microgravity's impact on human immunity, conducting advanced space biology research, and maintaining critical systems on the ISS. Concurrently, Axiom Space is preparing for its second private mission to the ISS, with the launch of Axiom Mission 2 set to include four crew members conducting research, outreach, and commercial activities.

The seven-member Expedition 69 crew began its week studying microgravity's effects on human immunity, replacing critical life support gear, and cleaning up after last week's spacewalk. Axiom Space is also counting down to its second private mission to the International Space StationThe International Space Station (ISS) is a large spacecraft in orbit around the Earth that serves as a research laboratory and spaceport for international collaboration in space exploration. It was launched in 1998 and has been continuously occupied by rotating crews of astronauts and cosmonauts from around the world since 2000. The ISS is a joint project of five space agencies: NASA (USA), Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (Europe), and CSA (Canada). It orbits the Earth at an altitude of approximately 400 kilometers (250 miles), and provides a unique platform for scientific research, technological development, and human space exploration." data-gt-translate-attributes="[{"attribute":"data-cmtooltip", "format":"html"}]">International Space Station (ISS).

The orbital lab's main purpose is to gain scientific knowledge not possible in Earth's gravity to gain new insights benefitting humans on and off the Earth. Human research and physics are a key part of the microgravity science program helping NASAEstablished in 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government that succeeded the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). It is responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. Its vision is "To discover and expand knowledge for the benefit of humanity." Its core values are "safety, integrity, teamwork, excellence, and inclusion." NASA conducts research, develops technology and launches missions to explore and study Earth, the solar system, and the universe beyond. It also works to advance the state of knowledge in a wide range of scientific fields, including Earth and space science, planetary science, astrophysics, and heliophysics, and it collaborates with private companies and international partners to achieve its goals." data-gt-translate-attributes="[{"attribute":"data-cmtooltip", "format":"html"}]">NASA and its international partners plan missions to the Moon, MarsMars is the second smallest planet in our solar system and the fourth planet from the sun. It is a dusty, cold, desert world with a very thin atmosphere. Iron oxide is prevalent in Mars' surface resulting in its reddish color and its nickname "The Red Planet." Mars' name comes from the Roman god of war." data-gt-translate-attributes="[{"attribute":"data-cmtooltip", "format":"html"}]">Mars, and beyond.

NASA Flight Engineer Stephen Bowen started Monday processing blood samples that will be analyzed to understand how living in space affects cellular immune function to promote healthier astronauts. At the end of the day, Bowen put on a vest and headband packed with sensors that will record his physiological data to the Canadian Space Agency's Bio-Monitor device.

Expedition 69 Flight Engineers Sultan Alneyadi of UAE (United Arab Emirates) and Woody Hoburg of NASA are pictured showing off the tools they used to successfully open a hatch on the Unity module's space-facing side. Credit: NASA

Station flight engineers Frank Rubio of NASA and Sultan Alneyadi of UAE (United Arab Emirates) worked throughout Monday on experiment hardware supporting advanced space biology research. Rubio worked in the Kibo laboratory module checking out the Confocal Space Microscope that captures fluorescence imagery to observe the fundamental nature of cellular and tissue structures. Alneyadi installed a syringe filled with a protein solution inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox for the Ring Sheared Drop experiment that may provide potential treatments for neurodegenerative diseases.

Rubio and Alneyadi also assisted NASA Flight Engineer Woody Hoburg as he worked throughout the day on the Destiny laboratory module's carbon dioxide removal assembly. Hoburg spent several hours throughout Monday replacing components then checking for leaks on the life support device located in Destiny's air revitalization system rack.

Commander Sergey Prokopyev and Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin relaxed Saturday and Sunday following their five-hour and 14-minute spacewalk on Friday to deploy and activate a radiator on the Nauka science module. The two cosmonauts then kicked off Monday uninstalling components and checking for leaks on their Orlan spacesuits then returning the Poisk airlock to its post-spacewalk configuration. Afterward, the pair checked the heart monitoring gear they would wear during their descent to Earth inside the Soyuz MS-23 crew ship.

RoscosmosRoscosmos, also known as the Roscosmos State Corporation for Space Activities, is the Russian government agency responsible for space activities, including the development and operation of spacecraft, launch vehicles, and space stations. It was formed in 2015 through the merger of the Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and the United Rocket and Space Corporation. Roscosmos is responsible for Russia's space program and works closely with other international space agencies on joint projects, such as the International Space Station. The agency is also involved in a wide range of space-related activities, including scientific research, earth observation, telecommunications, and manned spaceflight." data-gt-translate-attributes="[{"attribute":"data-cmtooltip", "format":"html"}]">Roscosmos Flight Engineer Andrey Fedyaev spent his day primarily on maintenance activities as he cleaned ventilation equipment and laptop computers in the Zvezda service module. Fedyaev also spent a few moments on human research activities recording and downloading his body mass measurements and then collecting his own blood sample for later analysis.

The second private astronaut mission from Axiom Space, Axiom Mission 2, is scheduled to launch to the space station at 5:37 p.m. EDTEDT is an abbreviation for Eastern Daylight Time, the time zone for the eastern coast of the United States and Canada when observing daylight saving time (spring/summer). It is four hours behind Coordinated Universal Time. New York City, Washington, D.C., Boston, and the Kennedy Space Center are in the Eastern Time Zone (ET)." data-gt-translate-attributes="[{"attribute":"data-cmtooltip", "format":"html"}]">EDT on Sunday. Commander Peggy Whitson with Pilot John Shoffner and Mission Specialists Ali Alqarni and Rayyanah Barnawi will ride the SpaceXCommonly known as SpaceX, Space Exploration Technologies Corp. is a private American aerospace manufacturer and space transport services company that was founded by Elon Musk in 2002. Headquartered in Hawthorne, California, the company designs, manufactures, and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft. SpaceX's ultimate goal is to reduce space transportation costs and enable the colonization of Mars." data-gt-translate-attributes="[{"attribute":"data-cmtooltip", "format":"html"}]">SpaceX Dragon spacecraft to the orbiting lab's space-facing port on the Harmony module where they are scheduled to dock at 9:24 a.m. on Monday. The private quartet will conduct research, outreach, and commercial activities before returning to Earth.

The Axiom Mission 2 Flight Readiness Review was conducted on Monday and has concluded.

The Expedition 69 crew is studying microgravity's impact on human immunity, conducting advanced space biology research, and maintaining critical systems on the ISS. Concurrently, Axiom Space is preparing for its second private mission to the ISS, with the launch of Axiom Mission 2 set to include four crew members conducting research, outreach, and commercial activities.