Starliner Stands Down, Station Crew Works Physics and Nauka Transfers

The aurora australis seemingly crowns the Earth's horizon as the station orbited above the southern Indian Ocean in between Asia and Antarctica.
The aurora australis seemingly crowns the Earth’s horizon as the station orbited above the southern Indian Ocean in between Asia and Antarctica.

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner crew ship will roll back to its Vehicle Integration Facility so mission teams can examine the cause of unexpected valve position indications on the spacecraft’s propulsion system. Starliner’s launch targeted for today was halted as a result.

NASA and Boeing are analyzing indications that not all of Starliner’s valves were in the proper configuration needed for launch. The commercial crew partners will take the time necessary to ensure Starliner is ready to launch on Orbital Flight Test-2 to the International Space Station.

Meanwhile, the Expedition 65 crew explored space physics and transferred cargo from a new Russian science module on Wednesday.

Station Flight Engineers Megan McArthur, Mark Vande Hei and Thomas Pesquet took turns today researching ways to harness nanoparticles for the InSpace-4 space-manufacturing study. The space physics investigation takes place inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox and  seeks to develop advanced materials in microgravity to improve and strengthen spacecraft and Earthbound systems.

NASA Flight Engineer Shane Kimbrough worked in the U.S. Quest airlock on Wednesday removing particles from a smoke detector. Commander Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency replaced lights in the Kibo laboratory module then moved on to orbital plumbing tasks inside the Tranquility module’s waste and hygiene compartment.

Over in the Russian segment of the orbiting lab, cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov partnered up to unpack cargo delivered inside the new “Nauka” Multipurpose Laboratory Module. The duo then took turns exploring spacecraft and robotic piloting techniques for future planetary missions.

Continued analysis following last week’s event with unplanned thruster firings on Nauka has shown the space station remains in good shape with systems performing normally. Post-event reconstructions showed that the station experienced a total attitude change of approximately 540 degrees. Most importantly, the maximum rate and acceleration of the attitude change did not approach safety limits for station systems and normal operations resumed once attitude control was regained.

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