Expedition 69 Crew Prepping Cargo Dragon for Departure Ahead of Spacewalks
By Space Coast Daily // April 13, 2023
dragon craft undocks at 11:05 a.m. EDT on Saturday, will splashdown off coast of Florida
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Biology research, cargo packing, and spacewalk preparations continue aboard the International Space Station as the Expedition 69 crew goes into a very busy April.
NASA Flight Engineers Stephen Bowen and Woody Hoburg have been working on a variety of space experiments since their delivery aboard the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft on March 16.
The two astronauts, with assistance from NASA Flight Engineer Frank Rubio, are finalizing one experiment today by packing space biology samples and research hardware inside Dragon for its return to Earth this weekend.
The completed study will help scientists understand how an astronaut’s body adapts to living long-term in weightlessness. They will continue more science-packing activities on Friday.
The three NASA astronauts, including UAE (United Arab Emirates) astronaut Sultan Alneyadi, will also be on duty Saturday morning completing the stowage of critical research samples and loading of used station hardware inside Dragon.
Alneyadi will then activate Dragon monitoring tools and software and close the vehicle’s hatch before the U.S. cargo craft undocks at 11:05 a.m. EDT on Saturday.
Dragon will parachute to a splashdown off the coast of Florida a few hours later for retrieval by SpaceX and NASA personnel. The completed research and discarded lab gear will then be sent to scientists and engineers around the world for analysis.
After Dragon completes its mission at the orbital lab, the crew’s four astronauts and three cosmonauts will relax on Sunday before turning their attention to a series spacewalks set to begin on Tuesday, April 18.
Commander Sergey Prokopyev and Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin will exit the station’s Poisk airlock in their Russian Orlan spacesuits. From there, the duo will maneuver to the Earth-facing side of the station and start the work of moving a radiator and an experiment module from the Rassvet module to the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module. Roscosmos Flight Engineer Andrey Fedyaev will assist the spacewalkers operating the European robotic arm (ERA) from inside Nauka.
The trio from Roscosmos has spent the last few weeks gearing up for the logistics spacewalks, reviewing the procedures, and practicing the ERA robotics maneuvers.
The three cosmonauts have also found time for some research and maintenance activities while readying the Orlan spacesuits, collecting spacewalking tools, and organizing Poisk’s airlock.