Crew Studies How Space Affects Skin Before Station Traffic Increases

Astronaut Megan McArthur takes a midday break inside the cupola, the International Space Station’s “window to the world.”

Four Expedition 65 astronauts are swapping shifts today for a biology study exploring how long-term microgravity affects skin and the healing process. The other three crewmates are gearing up for next week’s relocation of their Soyuz crew ship to the International Space Station’s newest science module.

Rodents launched to the station aboard the most recent SpaceX Cargo Dragon mission are being observed today inside the Kibo laboratory module. Astronauts Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) kicked off the Rodent Research-1 Demonstration on Tuesday morning studying the mice inside Kibo’s Life Science Glovebox.

NASA Flight Engineers Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough continued the rodent research work in the afternoon. The space biology study seeks to identify genes and observe cell functions that are impacted by weightlessness and affect skin processes. The rodents will be returned to Earth late next week on the Cargo Dragon vehicle for further examination.

The pace of traffic at the orbiting lab picks up next week as three crewmates prepare to move their Soyuz crew ship to a new port. Two days later, a U.S. resupply ship will be next when it departs the station to return to Earth loaded with cargo and science experiments.

Three station crew members will enter their Soyuz MS-18 crew ship next Tuesday and take a short ride to another port. The trio, led by cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy flanked by NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei and Roscosmos Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov, will first back away from the space-facing Poisk module at 8:21 a.m. EDT. They will do a half-circle around the station and dock less than 45 minutes later to Russia’s Nauka multipurpose laboratory module.

Next Thursday, the SpaceX Cargo Dragon will undock from the Harmony module’s international docking adapter at 9:05 a.m. It will splashdown off the coast of Florida about 14 hours later where SpaceX and NASA personnel will retrieve the vehicle and begin unpacking its precious cargo.