The Expedition 40 trio is back at work Tuesday after relaxing Monday following a week of Soyuz and Dragon spacecraft departure activities. Commander Steve Swanson and Flight Engineers Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev resumed their international science activities and station maintenance work.
Plant science is a top priority for space scientists as NASA learns how to sustain future crews on long-term microgravity missions. The ability to regenerate food, water and oxygen on a spacecraft is important due to the difficulty of resupplying a crew conducting a mission beyond low-Earth orbit.
Swanson worked on the Resist Tubule botany experiment in the Destiny laboratory module. That investigation observes a plant’s response to microgravity and examines any modifications to its cellular components responsible for gravity resistance.
The commander also checked on the popular VEGGIE plant experiment delivered in April aboard the Dragon commercial spacecraft for the SpaceX-3 mission. The study explores harvesting salad-type crops for crew consumption. For now, the space-grown crop will be harvested but instead of being consumed it will be stored in a science freezer for later analysis on the ground by scientists.
Now that Dragon has returned to Earth, Swanson performed close out work cleaning up the vestibule, the area between the Dragon and the station’s Harmony node, and stowing equipment. He also disconnected a power cable from the robotics workstation used to control the Canadarm2 during Dragon’s grapple and release Sunday morning.
On the Russian side of the orbital laboratory cosmonaut Artemyev worked most of the morning repairing and upgrading computers. In the afternoon, he performed high-flying plumbing work replacing a water supply and storage system faucet. Skvortsov, a veteran station resident, worked throughout the day on maintenance for the Russian segment’s thermal control and life support systems.
The cosmonauts also worked on ongoing Russian science experiments Tuesday including radiation investigations.
The duo worked on investigations such as the Radi-N2 study which observes the station’s neutron environment and defines the risk to a crew member’s health. The Matroyshka experiment examines the radiation absorbed by a mannequin made from materials that simulate human tissue.
Three new Expedition 40/41 crew members are counting down to their May 28 (U.S. time) launch to the orbital laboratory. The trio is in its crew quarters at the Cosmonaut Hotel in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, finalizing mission preparations.
Soyuz Commander and cosmonaut Maxim Suraev, NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman and European astronaut Alexander Gerst will launch aboard the Soyuz TMA-13M spacecraft at 3:57 p.m. EDT (1:57 a.m. May 29 Baikonur time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. They are scheduled to dock to Rassvet after just four orbits at 9:48 p.m. returning the space station to its full complement of six crew members.
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