Astronauts Work Final Spacewalk Preps and Genetic Sequencing

Astronauts Work Final Spacewalk Preps and Genetic Sequencing

Astronaut Tracy C. Dyson works inside the Quest airlock and checks procedures on a computer tablet to prepare a spacesuit for a fit verification.
Astronaut Tracy C. Dyson works inside the Quest airlock and checks procedures on a computer tablet to prepare a spacesuit for a fit verification.

The Expedition 71 crew is in final preparations for a science and maintenance spacewalk set to begin Thursday morning. The two astronauts on NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test spent their day aboard the International Space Station performing genetic sequencing and orbital plumbing.

NASA astronauts Tracy C. Dyson and Matthew Dominick are in their final day of preparations for a spacewalk planned to start at 8 a.m. EDT on Thursday. Once the astronauts set their spacesuits to battery power, the spacewalkers will exit the Quest airlock into the vacuum of space for six-and-a-half hours of maintenance and science work. The duo will first remove the radio frequency group hardware from a pallet on the side of the Destiny laboratory module with assistance from the Canadarm2 robotic arm. Next, the spacewalkers will swab surfaces on the Destiny and Quest modules to determine if microorganisms released through station vents can survive the external microgravity environment.

Dyson and Dominick readied Quest, checked their spacesuits, and organized spacewalking tools on Wednesday morning. NASA Flight Engineers Mike Barratt and Jeanette Epps practiced on a computer the Canadarm2 maneuvers they will use during Thursday’s spacewalk. All four astronauts at the end of the day called down to mission controllers for a final spacewalk preparedness conference.

NASA TV will begin its spacewalk broadcast at 6:30 a.m. on Thursday. Live coverage will air on NASA+, NASA Television, the NASA appYouTube, and the agency’s website. Learn how to stream NASA TV through a variety of platforms including social media.

NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams spent Wednesday focusing on lab maintenance and researching advanced biotechnology. Wilmore started his day checking cargo stowed in the Harmony module before replacing components in the station’s bathroom, known as the waste and hygiene compartment located in the Tranquility module. Williams extracted DNA from microbes collected from station water samples and sequenced their genes for identification. Results may inform ways to keep crews healthy and space habitats cleaner.

The station’s three cosmonauts, Oleg Kononenko, Nikolai Chub, and Alexander Grebenkin, had an off-duty day on Wednesday spending time relaxing, exercising, and on light housekeeping tasks.


Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on X, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Get weekly video highlights at: https://roundupreads.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

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Mark Garcia

Crew Works Genetics, Maintenance and is GO for Spacewalk

Crew Works Genetics, Maintenance and is GO for Spacewalk

The seven Expedition 71 crew members gather with the two Crew Flight Test members for a team portrait aboard the space station. In the front from left are, Suni Williams, Oleg Kononenko, and Butch Wilmore. Second row from left are, Alexander Grebenkin, Tracy C. Dyson, and Mike Barratt. In the back are, Nikolai Chub, Jeanette Epps, and Matthew Dominick.
The seven Expedition 71 crew members gather with the two Crew Flight Test members for a team portrait aboard the space station. In the front from left are, Suni Williams, Oleg Kononenko, and Butch Wilmore. Second row from left are, Alexander Grebenkin, Tracy C. Dyson, and Mike Barratt. In the back are, Nikolai Chub, Jeanette Epps, and Matthew Dominick.

Spacewalk preparations and genetic research were the prime responsibilities for the orbital residents aboard the International Space Station on Tuesday. The Expedition 71 crew also worked on futuristic piloting studies and more eye and ear checks.

NASA astronauts Tracy C. Dyson and Matthew Dominick have been given the “go” by mission managers to begin a six-and-a-half-hour spacewalk at 8 a.m. EDT on Thursday. The duo will work outside in the vacuum of space removing communications hardware, known as the radio frequency group, then sampling for microorganisms potentially living on the outside of the orbital outpost. This will be Dyson’s fourth spacewalk and Dominick’s first.

The duo joined each other after lunchtime reviewing spacewalk safety procedures and printing checklists they will wear on their spacesuit cuffs. Toward the end of the day, the spacewalkers gathered with NASA Flight Engineers Mike Barratt and Jeanette Epps and called down to mission controllers to discuss readiness for Thursday’s spacewalk.

Mission managers will discuss the upcoming spacewalk details during a news conference at 4 p.m. today. Live coverage will air on NASA+, NASA Television, the NASA appYouTube, and the agency’s website. Learn how to stream NASA TV through a variety of platforms including social media.

Barratt earlier scanned Dyson’s eyes with the Ultrasound 2 device imaging her cornea, lens, and optic nerve. Dominick recorded a video greeting for an audience in Colorado as Epps swapped water tanks inside the Tranquility module.

Starliner astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams spent their day on biomedical activities and gene sequence training. Wilmore took an inventory of the Human Research Facility checking items such as blood tube kits, saliva sample packs, gloves, and more. Williams studied procedures to collect microbe samples, extract their DNA, and sequence their genes to learn how to identify bacteria and fungi living in station water systems.

Cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub took turns on Tuesday jogging on a treadmill while attached to electrodes recording their health data for a physical fitness test. The duo also worked on electronics gear swaps, life support maintenance, and station window inspections. Flight Engineer Alexander Grebenkin studied experimental spacecraft and robotic piloting techniques that may be used to train crew members on planetary missions. He also conducted a hearing test wearing headphones connected to a computer and responding to a series of tones.


Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on X, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Get weekly video highlights at: https://roundupreads.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

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Mark Garcia

NASA, Boeing Progress on Testing Starliner with Crew at Space Station

NASA, Boeing Progress on Testing Starliner with Crew at Space Station

The Starliner spacecraft on NASA's Boeing Crew Flight Test approaches the International Space Station.
The Starliner spacecraft on NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test approaches the International Space Station while orbiting 263 miles above Quebec, Canada. NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams aboard Starliner docked to the orbital outpost’s forward port on the Harmony module at 1:34 p.m. EDT on Thursday, June 6. Photo credit: NASA

Orbiting Earth as part of the nine-person crew of the International Space Station, NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams continue testing Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft as part of its first flight with astronauts. The testing is part of the data collection on the Starliner system for certification by NASA for regular crewed mission to the orbital complex.

As part of NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test, Wilmore and Williams, along with teams on the ground, are stepping through numerous flight objectives following arrival of Starliner to the space station on June 6, including:

  • Powering the spacecraft down into a minimal power mode, which it will enter during operational missions while the crew works aboard station, and then powering it up again;
  • Conducting “safe haven” checks to show the spacecraft can support a crew with its own air and consumables during in an emergency on the station;
  • Performing a habitability study, along with astronauts Tracy Dyson and Matthew Dominick,to evaluate seating positions and other factors, such as air circulation for a four-person crew;
  • Evaluating spacesuit and seat-fits, as well as checkouts of the service module’s batteries.

Meanwhile, ground teams continue to assess and monitor Starliner’s performance and planning for return of the mission no earlier than Tuesday, June 18, pending weather and spacecraft readiness. Starliner is cleared for crew emergency return scenarios from space station, if needed, in accordance with the flight rules.

While Starliner remains docked to station, ground teams are continuing to evaluate propulsion system in-flight observations.

“Butch and Suni are doing great aboard station as ground teams continue digging into the details of Starliner’s on-orbit, rendezvous, and docked performance,” said Steve Stich, manager, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. “We expected to do a lot of valuable learning on this test flight, and I am extremely proud of how the NASA and Boeing teams are working together to ensure we can safely execute the return portion of the mission.”

One of Starliner’s aft-facing reaction control system (RCS) thrusters, capable of about 85 pounds of thrust, remains de-selected as teams continue to evaluate its performance. Ground teams plan to fire all 28 RCS thrusters after undocking to collect additional data signatures on the service module thrusters before the hardware is expended. As part of normal operations, the service module separates from crew module on return, so NASA and Boeing will gather as much data as possible to aid in system assessments.

Teams currently are assessing what impacts, if any, five small leaks in the service module helium manifolds would have on the remainder of the mission. Engineers evaluated the helium supply based on current leak rates and determined that Starliner has plenty of margin to support the return trip from station. Only seven hours of free-flight time is needed to perform a normal end of mission, and Starliner currently has enough helium left in its tanks to support 70 hours of free flight activity following undocking. While Starliner is docked, all the manifolds are closed per normal mission operations preventing helium loss from the tanks.

Engineers also are evaluating an RCS oxidizer isolation valve in the service module that is not properly closed. Ground teams performed a successful propulsion system valve checkout on Sunday. All other oxidizer and fuel valves within the service module were cycled normally. The suspect oxidizer isolation valve was not cycled in the recent checkout. It will remain commanded closed for the remainder of the mission while ground teams continue to evaluate its data signatures. The crew module propulsion valves, which are part of an independent system that steers the capsule in the last phase of flight before landing, also were successfully cycled, and all those valves are performing as designed.

Mission managers are continuing to work through the return plan, which includes assessments of flight rationale, fault tolerance, and potential operational mitigations for the remainder of the flight. NASA and Boeing will hold a pre-departure media teleconference to provide additional updates before Starliner undocks from station.

With launch and docking already completed, the last remaining dynamic phase of the mission will come at the end of the flight test when Starliner will undock from the orbiting laboratory and then adjust its orbit to move away from the space station. The spacecraft, with Wilmore and Williams aboard, will perform a deorbit burn before entering the atmosphere and landing in the southwestern United States under parachutes and landing airbags to complete the flight.

As part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program, the mission is the first crewed flight for the Starliner spacecraft. Learn more about the mission by following the commercial crew blog,@commercial_crew on X, and commercial crew on Facebook.

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Danielle Sempsrott

Spacewalk Nears as Starliner Crew Begins Extended Stay

Spacewalk Nears as Starliner Crew Begins Extended Stay

Atronauts (from left) Jeanette Epps and Mike Barratt assist astronaut Tracy C. Dyson during a spacesuit fit check inside the Quest airlock on May 30.
Atronauts (from left) Jeanette Epps and Mike Barratt assist astronaut Tracy C. Dyson during a spacesuit fit check inside the Quest airlock on May 30.

The Expedition 71 crew is getting ready for a spacewalk this week while two Commercial Crew astronauts will spend a few extra days aboard the International Space Station. The orbital residents also continued their advanced space research and conducted eye and ear exams on Monday.

On Friday, June 7, Expedition crew members completed installation of the spare pump carried aboard Starliner for the urine processing assembly on the orbital outpost, and the hardware is functioning properly.

NASA Flight Engineers Tracy C. Dyson and Matthew Dominick are preparing for the first of three planned spacewalks for science and maintenance on the orbital lab. The astronauts are expected to set their spacesuits to battery power at 8 a.m. EDT on Thursday officially beginning their scheduled six-and-a-half-hour spacewalk. The spacewalkers will retrieve faulty communications hardware, also known as the radio frequency group, and swab station surfaces to determine the ability of microorganisms to survive the extreme microgravity environment.

Mission managers will discuss the upcoming spacewalk details during a news conference at 4 p.m. on Tuesday. Live coverage will air on NASA+, NASA Television, the NASA appYouTube, and the agency’s website. Learn how to stream NASA TV through a variety of platforms including social media.

NASA Flight Engineer Mike Barratt assisted Dominick as he tried on his spacesuit during a standard fit check in the Quest airlock on Monday morning. During the afternoon, the two spacewalkers joined Barratt and NASA Flight Engineer Jeanette Epps and reviewed Canadarm2 robotic arm procedures necessary to retrieve the radio gear.

Earlier, Epps attached an acoustic monitor to herself measuring the sound environment she’s exposed to aboard the station. Afterward, she collected lab water samples to test for microbes then conducted a hearing exam listening to tones on a pair of headphones connected to a computer. Dyson joined cosmonaut Nikolai Chub at the end of the day and peered at a standard eye chart reading characters to test their visual acuity.

New station visitors Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams, both veteran NASA astronauts, learned on Sunday they will orbit Earth until June 18 before returning home aboard Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft. The extra days in space will allow teams more time to checkout Starliner’s systems and free up the Expedition crew’s schedule for more spacewalk preparations.

Wilmore and Williams started Monday with health checks measuring their temperature, blood pressure, pulse, and respiratory rate. The duo then split up as Wilmore worked on computer maintenance inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox and Williams installed hardware to support a space fire investigation.

In the orbital outpost’s Roscosmos segment, Chub transferred water stowed inside the Progress 88 resupply ship to tanks inside the Zvezda service module. Flight Engineer Alexander Grebenkin cleaned vents and air ducts then checked lighting systems in the Zvezda, Nauka, and Poisk modules. Station commander and veteran cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko studied plasma physics in the Columbus laboratory module then wore a sensor-packed cap and explored futuristic spacecraft and robotic piloting techniques.


Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on X, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Get weekly video highlights at: https://roundupreads.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

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Mark Garcia

Starliner Crew Adjusts to Station Life During Spacewalk Preps

Starliner Crew Adjusts to Station Life During Spacewalk Preps

Boeing's Starliner spacecraft on NASA's Crew Flight Test approaches the International Space Station while orbiting 263 miles above Quebec, Canada, on June 6.
Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft on NASA’s Crew Flight Test approaches the International Space Station while orbiting 263 miles above Quebec, Canada, on June 6.

Nine astronauts and cosmonauts are living aboard the International Space Station following the arrival of two crewmates aboard Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft for the first time on Thursday. The Expedition 71 crewmates slept in on Friday then split up their day on spacewalk preparations, human research, and Starliner configurations.

Starliner crew members Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams, both veteran NASA astronauts, boarded the orbital outpost after docking the spacecraft to the Harmony module’s forward port at 1:34 p.m. EDT on Thursday. The duo will spend a weeklong mission on the outpost checking out the new spacecraft’s systems and conducting microgravity research.

Wilmore and Williams slept in on Friday before beginning their first full day on the station transferring cargo and emergency gear in and out of Starliner. The Starliner crew will go into the weekend checking out the new vehicle’s docked capabilities and systems.

Meanwhile, a trio of spacewalks are planned this month for science and maintenance on the orbital lab. NASA Flight Engineer Tracy C. Dyson began worked throughout Friday day reviewing spacewalk procedures and configuring spacewalk tools inside the Quest airlock with assistance from fellow flight engineers Mike Barratt and Jeanette Epps.

Mission managers will discuss the upcoming spacewalks on NASA TV at 4 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, June 11. Watch live on the NASA+ streaming service via the web or the NASA app. Mission coverage also will air live on NASA Television,  YouTube, and on the agency’s website. Learn how to stream NASA TV through a variety of platforms including social media.

Barratt also helped the Starliner astronauts unpack new station cargo before servicing life support equipment in the Destiny, Tranquility, and Harmony modules. Epps spent the rest of her day processing blood and saliva samples for the Immunity Assay investigation that is exploring how microgravity affects cellular immunity. NASA Flight Engineer Matthew Dominick assisted the Starliner crew with emergency hardware then wrapped up his day in Tranquility replacing orbital plumbing components.

Roscosmos station Commander Oleg Kononenko started his day getting familiar with the Plasma Crystal-4 space physics experiment that explores low-temperature gas mixtures. Next, he tested a 3D printer’s ability to manufacture hardware in space. Flight Engineers Nikolai Chub and Alexander Grebenkin took turns scanning each other’s stomachs after breakfast to observe how the digestion system adapts to long-term weightlessness. The duo split up afterward and worked the rest of Friday on a variety of life support maintenance throughout the space station’s Roscosmos segment.


Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on X, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Get weekly video highlights at: https://roundupreads.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

Get the latest from NASA delivered every week. Subscribe here: www.nasa.gov/subscribe

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Mark Garcia