International Space Station Goes into Final Handovers Before Next Crew Departs Next Week

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The Crew-7 quartet (from left), cosmonaut Konstantin Borisov, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Andreas Mogensen, NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli, and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Satoshi Furukawa pose for a photo in their Dragon flight suits ahead of their departure from the International Space Station. (NASA Image)

(NASA) – Two crews aboard the International Space Station are continuing mission handover responsibilities before four Expedition 70 crewmates return to Earth next week.

In the meantime, a host of advanced space research is underway to improve life on Earth and in space.

The next crew to leave the orbital outpost is due to undock inside the SpaceX Dragon “Endurance” spacecraft from the Harmony module’s space-facing port on Monday.

NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli will lead Pilot Andreas Mogensen, and Mission Specialists Satoshi Furukawa and Konstantin Borisov back to Earth inside Dragon for a splashdown off the coast of Florida. The commercial crew quartet has been aboard the space station since Aug. 27, 2023.

Moghbeli and Mogensen have spent the week readying Dragon for its return, checking spacecraft systems and hardware in coordination with mission controllers from SpaceX and NASA. They have also been working with Furukawa and Borisov packing personal items and station cargo for the ride back to Earth.

Mogensen and Furukawa managed to fit in a pair of different experiments in their busy schedule at the end of the week. Mogensen from ESA (European Space Agency) peered at cell samples through a microscope for the Project EAGLE cardiac health study.

The experiment may provide therapeutic insights for space-caused and Earthbound heart conditions. Furukawa from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) serviced samples inside the Kibo laboratory module’s Solid Combustion Experiment Module that acquires data on how oxygen-fed solid fuels burn in microgravity.

NASA Flight Engineer Loral O’Hara, who will remain in space until early April, assisted new NASA Flight Engineer Mike Barratt as he worked out for the first time on the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device.

After that, she swapped out a spool of optical fiber samples inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox. The sample work was done for a study exploring the manufacturing of optical fibers in space superior to those produced on Earth.

Barratt later joined his Dragon “Endeavour” crewmates Matthew Dominick and Jeanette Epps, both from NASA, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin and called down to mission controllers to discuss Dragon operations during their ride to the space station.

The foursome continues getting familiarized with orbital exercise equipment, life support systems, emergency procedures, and more.

Borisov and veteran cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko wrapped up operations with the lower body negative pressure suit being tested for its potential to relieve the effects of returning to Earth’s gravity after spending several months in space. Flight Engineer Nikolai Chub worked throughout the station’s Roscosmos segment servicing ventilation systems. Chub and Kononenko will continue their mission aboard the orbital outpost and stay in space several more months.

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