Crew Looks to U.S. Space Record and Super Bowl Flyover
Most of the Expedition 64 crew started a three-day weekend today following a busy start to 2020 that saw two U.S. cargo ship departures and two spacewalks. The orbital residents aboard the International Space Station will fly over the Super Bowl on Sunday, and four of them will also break a U.S. space record from the ’70s.
Four SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts living aboard the International Space Station will surpass the U.S. record on Sunday for most days in space by a crew launched aboard a U.S. spacecraft. They will surpass the record of 84 days set by the Skylab 4 crew on Feb. 8, 1974.
On the same day, the space station’s orbital path will take it over Tampa, Florida, at 7:15 p.m. EST, home of Super Bowl LV. The orbital flyover will be at the same time two NFL football teams will be competing to win the big game at Raymond James Stadium.
Four NASA astronauts and one JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut are relaxing today beginning a three-day weekend. The quintet were busy packing Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter and the SpaceX Cargo Dragon in January and monitoring their departures. Then they redirected their attention to a pair of spacewalks by Hopkins and Glover to upgrade communications and power systems. During that period microgravity research was running full speed ahead exploring everything from life science to space physics to advanced technology demonstrations.
Meanwhile in the Russian segment of the station, Commander Sergey Ryzhikov serviced exercise equipment and video communications gear. Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov set up and activated Earth observation hardware and assisted Ryzhikov with the upkeep of the Zvezda service module’s treadmill.
Robotics, Emergency Training and Cargo Mission Preps on Station
Free-flying robotics and fluid physics dominated the research schedule aboard the International Space Station today. The Expedition 64 crew also trained for an emergency while also preparing for upcoming U.S. and Russian cargo missions.
The Astrobee experimental robotic assistants were flying around inside the Japanese Kibo laboratory module on Thursday. The cube-shaped, toaster-sized robots are being tested for their ability to autonomously navigate and maneuver inside the orbiting lab. NASA Flight Engineer Kate Rubins set up the robotic free flyers and live streamed their activities to ground specialists during the afternoon.
Rubins also set up a fluid physics experiment in the morning that NASA Flight Engineer Shannon Walker would work on the rest of the day. Walker was studying simpler, more advanced ways to manage fluid and gas mixtures inside spacecraft life support systems.
Walker would also join her flight engineer crewmates Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover of NASA and Soichi Noguchi of JAXA for Crew Dragon emergency training. The quartet reviewed the procedures they would use in case the Crew Dragon encountered a chemical leak, depressurization or a fire.
Commander Sergey Ryzhikov is readying the station’s Russian segment for upcoming resupply ship missions. The commander is packing the Progress 76 cargo craft with trash and discarded gear ahead of its Feb. 9 undocking. Ryzhikov also tested video communications gear that will be used when the Progress 77 space freighter approaches the station for a docking on Feb. 17.
Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus resupply ship is due to arrive at the station on Feb. 22 carrying over 8,000 pounds of crew supplies, science experiments and station hardware. NASA will host a media teleconference on Feb. 11 to discuss the new research and technology demonstrations Cygnus is delivering.
Science Gear Work and Spacesuit Cleaning Follow Harvest
The Expedition 64 crew turned its attention to science hardware today following Tuesday’s harvest aboard the International Space Station. The orbital residents also cleaned up following two spacewalks to upgrade communications and power systems.
The day before, Hopkins picked a variety of edible plants growing in the station’s Columbus laboratory module including pak choi, wasabi mustard, kale, and red romaine. He snacked on the leaves with his crewmates for a taste test and stowed samples for later analysis as part of the Veg-3 botany study. Space agriculture is key to the success and sustainability of future human missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond.
Glover started the day with fellow NASA astronaut Shannon Walker tearing down old video equipment that he and Hopkins uninstalled from Columbus during Monday’s spacewalk. Walker then joined JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi for post-spacewalk maintenance on the U.S. spacesuits Hopkins and Glover wore on Monday.
In the Russian segment of the station, Commander Sergey Ryzhikov worked on Zarya module upkeep and science photography tasks. Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov assisted Ryzhikov with the science photography then moved on to communications and life support work.
NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover completed their second spacewalk together on Monday wrapping up a years-long effort to upgrade the station’s power system. They relaxed Tuesday morning before spending the afternoon on a spacewalk conference and space botany.
The duo joined astronauts Kate Rubins of NASA and Soichi Noguchi of JAXA and called down to spacewalk engineers after lunchtime today. The quartet briefed the specialists on any concerns or issues they had during the Jan. 27 and Feb. 1 spacewalks.
Hopkins spent the rest of the afternoon harvesting plants growing inside the Columbus laboratory module’s Veggie facility. Afterward, he joined his astronaut crewmates including Flight Engineer Shannon Walker and snacked on the freshly picked pak choi, wasabi mustard, kale, and red romaine for a taste test.
In the station’s Russian segment, Commander Sergey Ryzhikov worked on computers, life science hardware and Zarya module maintenance. Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov worked on orbital plumbing tasks and radiation checks then work on a pair of Earth observation experiments.
Spacewalkers Wrap Up Battery Work and Camera Installations
NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins and Victor Glover concluded their spacewalk at 1:16 p.m. EST, after 5 hours and 20 minutes. In the second spacewalk of the year, the two NASA astronauts completed work to replace batteries that provide power for the station’s solar arrays and upgrade several of the station’s external cameras. The duo finished their planned tasks ahead of schedule and also complete several get-ahead tasks in preparation for future spacewalks.
Two additional spacewalks are planned for the near future. During the next spacewalk, Glover and NASA astronaut Kate Rubins will work outside the station to prepare its power system for the installation of new solar arrays to increase the station’s existing power supply. For a following spacewalk, Rubins and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi will continue upgrading station components. NASA will air a briefing and preview of the next two spacewalks after the dates are set.
This was the fourth spacewalk in Hopkins’ career, and the second for Glover.
Hopkins has now spent a total of 25 hours and 14 minutes spacewalking. Glover now has spent a total of 12 hours and 16 minutes spacewalking.
Space station crew members have conducted 234 spacewalks in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory. Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 61 days, 7 hours, and 7 minutes working outside the station.