Residents of the International Space Station end 2021 with spacesuits and dragon work

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This mosaic shows the International Space Station photographed from the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavor during a flyby of the orbiting laboratory that took place after it undocked from the space-oriented port of the Harmony Module on November 8, 2021. Credit: NASA Johnson

Expedition 66 astronauts and cosmonauts worked throughout Wednesday on American and Russian space suits. Orbital residents will also end 2021 by working on life sciences and cargo operations aboard the International Space Station.

Of the 6,500 pounds of cargo delivered aboard the EspaceX Cargo Dragon on December 22 was a US space suit and other spacewalk equipment. ">Nasa Flight engineers Kayla Barron and Thomas Marshburn removed Dragon’s new spacesuit on Wednesday, then installed communications equipment and configured it. The duo also packed an old American spacesuit inside the Cargo Dragon for a return to Earth in January. The next U.S. spacewalk is slated for spring when two astronauts install a third set of deployed solar panels at the orbiting lab.

Russian spacewalks are also planned at the station in 2022 to equip the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module which arrived in July. Cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrovnik began today to review procedures for upcoming excursions when they configure Nauka to work with the rest of the space station. The Roscosmos pair also began to organize Russian Orlan space suit components and spacewalk tools.

The final days of 2021 will see the station’s crew headlong into a variety of space biology research. Astronauts have already started launching some of the more than 2,500 books of science experiments and research equipment delivered to Dragon. Barron and Marshburn will begin observing mice on Thursday to understand how microgravity affects visual function. ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer has already started the new Cytoskeleton experiment and will be working on it the rest of the week to study how the human cell adapts to weightlessness.

Orbital maintenance is essential to ensure the continued and safe operation of the station. NASA flight engineers Mark Vande Hei and Raja Chari will focus on this work for the rest of the week. Vande Hei will configure various research materials while assisting cosmonauts in their work on Russian space suits. Chari will spend the next few days unpacking the Cargo Dragon and working on the station’s survival and plumbing tasks.


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