The rocket carrying the next crew to the International Space Station has rolled out to its launch pad and is counting down to launch mid-week. Meanwhile, aboard the orbital laboratory Monday, the Expedition 67 crew studied telerobotics and fluid physics while preparing for the crew’s upcoming arrival and departure next week.
NASA astronaut Frank Rubio prepares for his first spaceflight, which is scheduled to begin Wednesday at 9:54 a.m. EDT when he departs for the station aboard the Soyuz MS-22 crew ship. He will fly with Soyuz Commander Sergei Prokopyev and Flight Engineer Dmitry Petelin, both from Roscosmos. The trio will dock with the Rassvet module less than three and a half hours after launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and begin a six-month research mission to the space station.
View photos of the Soyuz rocket taxiing to the launch pad.
A little over a week after the arrival of the new crew, three cosmonauts who have been on the station since March 18 will return to Earth. Station Commander Oleg Artemyev will board the crew ship Soyuz MS-21 with flight engineers Denis Matveev and Sergey Korsakov, undock from the Prichal module, then reenter Earth’s atmosphere and parachute for a landing in the steppes of Kazakhstan. The three spent Monday preparing their launch and boarding suits for the trip home, packing equipment for loading into their Soyuz spacecraft, and reviewing Soyuz undocking and descent procedures.
ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti will take over as station commander from Artemyev before he departs during the traditional change of command ceremony. The leadership change will be broadcast live on NASA TV, the agency’s app, and its website on September 28 at 9:35 a.m.
Back in space, NASA flight engineer Bob Hines spent his day looking at foam samples in the KERMIT microscope to observe properties only possible in microgravity. The study on foams and emulsions examines how microgravity affects microstructures and the distribution of bubbles in liquids, potentially expanding commercial opportunities both in space and on Earth.
Robotics activities are vital both inside and outside the orbital laboratory. As NASA and its international partners plan manned missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond, researchers are also exploring the possibility of piloting ground-based robots, also known as telerobotics, from a spacecraft. NASA flight engineer Jessica Watkins powered on the Surface Avatar laptop Monday morning and explored a variety of methods, including haptic controls, user interfaces and virtual reality, to control robotic vehicles from long range. Watkins later participated in a cognition test designed to measure a crew member’s ability to perform robotic activities under microgravity conditions.
NASA flight engineer Kjell Lindgren next participated in the robotic cognition study to investigate core behavioral measures that could influence future spacecraft and space habitat designs. Lindgren also spent the day doing tasks on the space station, including maintaining parts of the US space suit and cleaning crew quarters. Cristoforetti also focused on laboratory maintenance activities, inspecting biological research equipment and replacing components of the station’s toilet, also known as the Waste and Sanitation Department.
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