Space Research, Orbital Plumbing Fill Crew’s Day

Space Research, Orbital Plumbing Fill Crew’s Day

Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy services microbial DNA samples for sequencing and identification aboard the space station's Harmony module.
Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy services microbial DNA samples for sequencing and identification aboard the space station’s Harmony module.

The Expedition 63 crew, with one U.S. astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station, juggled an array of space research and orbital plumbing duties on Wednesday.

Commander Chris Cassidy ran several test operations today of the Water Droplet Formation experiment that may improve fluid management on spaceships and faucets and showers on Earth. The veteran astronaut also analyzed water samples for microbes and checked on biology and robotics hardware.

Cassidy then switched roles from space scientist to high-flying plumber and serviced the station’s restroom, the Waste and Hygiene Compartment, located in the Tranquility module. He also exchanged water recovery system pumps inside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module.

Flight Engineer Anatoly Ivanishin of Roscosmos spent Wednesday morning working on power and electrical systems in the orbiting lab’s Russian segment. The experienced cosmonaut then moved onto fluid transfers into the Progress 76 resupply ship then studied ways improve to interactions between mission controllers and space crews.

Cosmonaut Ivan Vagner from Roscosmos started the morning communicating with students on Earth using a ham radio. The first-time space flyer then worked the rest of the day on a variety of maintenance tasks including replacing pumps and checking smoke detectors.

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Mark Garcia

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Station Crew Busy With Variety of Space Research

Station Crew Busy With Variety of Space Research

NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy installs fluid research hardware inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module's Microgravity Science Glovebox.
NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy installs fluid research hardware inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module’s Microgravity Science Glovebox.

Free-flying robots, planetary bodies and water droplets were just part of Tuesday’s research plan aboard the International Space Station. The Expedition 63 trio also serviced a variety of communications gear and life support systems.

NASA and its international partners are planning human missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond and the space station represents a big step in that effort. The orbiting lab provides a unique platform to learn about the long-term effects of microgravity on a variety of systems.

A set of cube-shaped, robot assistants are flying around on their own today inside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module. Engineers are looking at video and imagery downlinked from the Astrobee devices to understand how the autonomous free-flyers visualize and navigate their way around the station.

Commander Chris Cassidy took a look at dynamic granular material samples this morning that simulate planetary surfaces. The experiment is taking place inside ESA’s (European Space Agency) Columbus laboratory module and could inform future planetary exploration missions.

The veteran NASA astronaut also split his time between botany and fluid physics. Cassidy worked on the Plant Habitat-02 checking growth lights and installing an acoustic shield to protect the plants from station noises. Next, he moved onto commercial research to improve water conservation and water pressure techniques on Earth.

In the Russian segment of the station, the two cosmonaut flight engineers worked on their complement of orbital science and lab maintenance. Anatoly Ivanishin serviced video equipment and an air purifier before conducting Earth observations. Ivan Vagner collected air samples for microbial analysis and explored ways to improve interactions between mission controllers, students and space crews.

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Mark Garcia

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