Cosmonauts, Astronauts Gearing Up for Two Spacewalks

Russia’s Soyuz MS-18 crew ship (foreground) and Nauka multipurpose laboratory module are pictured docked to the station as it orbited above Africa’s Indian Ocean coast.

Two Expedition 65 cosmonauts will soon exit the International Space Station for the second spacewalk in less than week to continue configuring a Russian science module. Meanwhile, two astronauts are gearing up for another spacewalk, while the rest of the crew conducts space research and lab maintenance.

Russia’s new Nauka multipurpose laboratory module (MLM) saw its first power and ethernet cable connections last Friday during a seven-hour and 54-minute spacewalk with Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov. The duo from Roscosmos will perform another spacewalk on Thursday at 11 a.m. EDT to continue more Nauka cable connections and install new handrails on the MLM.

The two cosmonauts spent Tuesday getting their Orlan spacesuits ready, organizing spacewalk tools and preparing the Poisk airlock for Thursday’s excursion. NASA TV will begin its live spacewalk coverage at 10:30 a.m. on the NASA app and the agency’s website.

Just three days after that two astronauts will exit the U.S. Quest airlock to modify the Port-4 (P4) truss structure and ready the orbital lab for its third set of Roll-Out Solar Arrays. Commander Akihiko Hoshide from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet from ESA (European Space Agency) will don their U.S. spacesuits on Sunday and begin their spacewalk at 8:30 a.m.

The spacewalking pair today reviewed their tools and the modification kit they will install on P4 then studied the upcoming robotics maneuvers planned for the excursion on a computer. NASA TV will broadcast Sunday’s spacewalk starting at 7 a.m.

The station’s three NASA astronauts focused mainly on a variety of research work as well as the upkeep of the orbital lab.

Flight Engineer Megan McArthur started Tuesday exploring how microgravity affects drug metabolism. She first retrieved genetic samples from a science freezer then analyzed them to help scientists understand biological changes in space and monitor astronaut health.

McArthur then partnered with NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei in the afternoon reviewing their support roles for Sunday’s spacewalk with Hoshide and Pesquet. Vane Hei then joined Flight Engineer Shane Kimbrough and serviced life support components that remove carbon dioxide from the station’s cabin.