New Dragon Science Under Way during Spacewalk Preps

Astronaut Mark Vande Hei poses for a playful portrait with astronauts Shane Kimbrough (left) and Thomas Pesquet (right) who are trying on their U.S. spacesuits.
Astronaut Mark Vande Hei poses for a playful portrait with astronauts Shane Kimbrough (left) and Thomas Pesquet (right) who are trying on their U.S. spacesuits.

Kidney cells, oral health and pharmaceuticals were the science highlights aboard the International Space Station on Wednesday. The Expedition 65 crew is also continuing to ramp up for a pair of spacewalks set to begin next week.

New experiments delivered Saturday aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon resupply ship are already under way on the orbiting lab. This includes the Kidney Cells-02 study that NASA Flight Engineers Megan McArthur and Mark Vande Hei took turns working on today.

The duo removed the kidney study’s hardware from the Space Automated Bioproduct Laboratory for placement and operations inside the Life Science Glovebox. The biotechnology experiment may provide a new understanding of how kidney diseases develop leading to new treatments impacting humans on and off the Earth.

Commander Akihiko Hoshide and Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet collaborated on the new Oral Biofilms study during Wednesday morning. Hoshide started the experiment retrieving sample packs from a science freezer and reconfiguring fluid flows to the samples. Pesquet followed that up by turning off the fluid flows and stowing the samples back in a science freezer. The experiment observes how bacteria is affected by microgravity and investigates ways to counteract any potential harmful changes. Results could also have a positive influence for maintaining oral health in space and on Earth.

Flight Engineer Shane Kimbrough spent the morning setting up gear in the Microgravity Science Glovebox to explore freeze-drying as a way to preserve medicines for long periods of time. The experiment, known as Lyophilization-2, could benefit pharmaceutical and other industries on Earth.

Kimbrough and Pesquet later joined each other during the afternoon for a conference with spacewalk specialists on the ground. The duo is scheduled for two spacewalks taking place on June 16 and 20 to install a new pair of solar arrays on the station’s Port-6 truss segment.

Cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov stayed focused on their contingent of Russian maintenance and research today. Novitskiy worked on orbital plumbing tasks before setting up hardware to observe Earth’s nighttime airglow in the near ultra-violet wavelength. Dubrov checked on smoke detectors and ventilation systems then moved on to more space exercise research.

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