Expedition 39 is relaxing the day after a short spacewalk to replace a backup computer. The crew members are also preparing to welcome back a Russian resupply freighter that undocked a couple of days ago.
NASA astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Steve Swanson successfully replaced a backup multiplexer/demultiplexer computer Wednesday morning during a spacewalk that lasted just one hour and 36 minutes. Ground controllers then powered up the device, ran diagnostics and updated software on the external computer restoring redundancy to the station’s truss system.
A few hours before the spacewalk began, the ISS Progress 53 cargo craft undocked from the Zvezda service module for two days of free-flying orbital tests. Russian flight controllers are testing its upgraded Kurs-NA automated rendezvous system before its scheduled return back to Zvezda Friday at 8:15 a.m. EDT.
Commander Koichi Wakata performed health checks on Mastracchio and Swanson after their spacewalk. Wakata also answered a questionnaire about his mood state living in space and conducted a conference with space station managers.
Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Mikhail Tyurin will monitor the Progress’ arrival Friday morning and have been training during the week on a rendezvous simulator. However, Thursday’s training session was cancelled due to a cable problem inside the simulator. The duo has plenty of training and expertise to support Friday’s redocking despite being unable to complete their training session.
As the astronauts continue to unload the SpaceX Dragon attached to the Harmony node, robotics controllers are preparing to off-load Dragon’s external payloads. The Canadarm2 will release its grip from Dragon, and the Mobile Transporter will move to a new worksite, to prepare to remove 1200 pounds of hardware from the commercial cargo craft’s trunk next week.
The external, unpressurized hardware will test using laser optics to send data to Earth and observe the effects of space exposure on high definition video cameras. The OPALS experiment will use a laser beam instead of radio frequencies to test sending more data to scientists quickly and efficiently. The HDEV study will place four HD video cameras on the station for live streaming Earth observations and observe how the space environment affects their performance.
Flight Engineer Oleg Artemyev sampled surfaces for microbes throughout the day in the station’s Russian segment. Skvortsov and Tyurin worked on ongoing science and continued the maintenance and upkeep of the orbital laboratory.