Life Science, Robotics on Station Today; Starliner Nears Launch
Human research, space botany, and robotics were the main research themes for the Expedition 67 crew aboard the International Space Station on Thursday. Meanwhile, mission managers conducted a Flight Readiness Review ahead of the launch of Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission scheduled for next week.
The orbiting lab’s four astronauts, including Flight Engineers Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines, Jessica Watkins, and Samantha Cristoforetti, kicked off the day with a quick health check. The quartet used the EveryWear app on an iPad that collects and downloads medical data for review by doctors on Earth. A variety of hardware such as a smart shirt that records cardiac activity, a wireless sensor that monitors heart rate, and a tonometer that measures pressure in eyes and blood vessels, contributes to the data that EveryWear collects.
Lindgren, Hines, and Watkins also took turns collecting and stowing their blood and urine samples for later analysis. Cristoforetti spent most of her morning on the Acoustic Diagnostics experiment that explores how the station’s noise levels affect a crew member’s hearing.
Lindgren also worked on the XROOTS botany study that investigates using hydroponic and aeroponic techniques to grow plants in microgravity. Afterward, he joined Hines and reviewed procedures for operating the Astrobee robotic free-flying assistants. Watkins and Cristoforetti worked on orbital plumbing tasks and cupola window maintenance respectively.
The station’s three cosmonauts, Commander Oleg Artemyev and Flight Engineers Denis Matveev and Sergey Korsakov, continued their complement of science and maintenance tasks in the station’s Russian segment.
NASA and Boeing mission managers completed a Flight Readiness Review on Wednesday and are proceeding toward the launch of the OFT-2 mission at 6:54 p.m. EDT on Thursday, May 19. Boeing’s unpiloted Starliner will lift off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida and automatically dock to the Harmony module’s forward port about 24 hours later. It will stay at the station for cargo and test operations for five to 10 days before parachuting back to Earth.
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