Crew Preparing for Spacewalks as Cargo Dragon Launch Nears
The Expedition 68 crew continues gearing up for more spacewalks at the International Space Station before the end of the year. Meanwhile, a U.S. cargo craft is counting down to its launch this week to resupply the seven-member crew living aboard the orbiting lab.
Two astronauts and two cosmonauts are preparing for five spacewalks to be conducted outside the space station in less than two months. One set of spacewalks is augmenting the station’s power generation system. The other set of spacewalks is deploying a radiator and installing an airlock on the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module.
Flight Engineers Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio prepared the station for new roll-out solar arrays during a spacewalk on Nov. 15 after assembling a mounting bracket on the station’s starboard truss structure. The roll-out solar arrays are due to be installed on the new mounting bracket on Nov. 29 by a pair of spacewalkers soon to be named by mission managers. On Monday, Flight Engineers Nicole Mann and Koichi Wakata reviewed the robotics procedures necessary to support the successful installation of the solar arrays
The roll-out solar arrays are packed inside the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Dragon is scheduled to lift off atop the company’s Falcon 9 rocket at 3:54 p.m. EST on Tuesday and arrive at the station for an automated docking at 5:57 a.m. on Wednesday. Dragon is also delivering new space agriculture and biotechnology studies, as well as food, fuel, and crew supplies. NASA TV, on the agency’s app and website, begins its launch coverage at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday and docking coverage at 4:30 a.m. on Wednesday.
After Dragon is docked to the Harmony module’s forward port, robotics controllers on the ground will command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to detach and remove the roll-out solar arrays from Dragon’s unpressurized trunk. The controllers will then remotely guide the Canadarm2 to stage the roll-out solar arrays on truss structure attachment points. From there the spacewalkers will access the solar arrays to begin the upcoming installation work.
Commander Sergey Prokopyev and Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin spent Monday setting up the Poisk airlock, organizing tools, and studying procedures for their second spacewalk together planned to begin at 6:15 a.m. on Friday. The duo, with assistance from European robotic arm operator Anna Kikina, will relocate a radiator from the Rassvet module to the Nauka science module. The Roscosmos spacewalkers prepared the radiator for its relocation during a spacewalk on Nov. 17.
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