CHRISTMAS ABOARD THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION
It is now Christmas eve aboard the International Space Station. The crew takes time to wish everyone happy holidays on earth. Soon to follow, preparations will be completed for the next spacewalk with newly adapted spacesuits.
The six-member Expedition 50 crew from France, Russia and the U.S. is heading into the holiday weekend with spacesuit checks and eye studies. The international crew will share a Christmas meal, enjoy a light-duty weekend and take Dec. 26 off.
Commander Shane Kimbrough scrubbed cooling loops and tested the water in a pair of U.S. spacesuits today. Kimbrough and Flight Engineers Peggy Whitson and Thomas Pesquet are getting ready for a pair of spacewalks on Jan. 6 and 13. The spacewalks, in conjunction with remote robotics work, will complete the replacement of old nickel-hydrogen batteries with new lithium-ion batteries on the station’s truss structure.
Whitson, who is spending her second Christmas in space, and Pesquet drew blood, urine and saliva samples for the Fluid Shifts study. That experiment investigates the upward flow of body fluids in space potentially causing lasting vision changes in astronauts.
In the Russian segment of the International Space Station, the three cosmonauts primarily worked on maintenance tasks and science work. Oleg Novitskiy worked on communications gear and experimented with space photography techniques. Sergey Ryzhikov worked on water transfers and a cardiac study. Andrey Borisenko worked on life support equipment before studying how a crew member learns to orient themselves in microgravity.
Earlier in the week, the ISS crew completed some work while continuing other experiments:
The crew wrapped up part of a muscle research program while continuing other experiments to study the effects of living in space. Also, a new CubeSat deployer was installed in Japan’s Kibo laboratory module.
Scientists want to understand how the lack of gravity impacts muscles that aren’t used due to working in the microgravity environment. The Sarcolab experiment is one study that measures how the calf muscle changes in space using an ultrasound and electrode stimulators. The first part of that experiment was completed today as its gear was stowed and data downlinked for analysis on Earth.
The station residents also explored how astronauts adapt to spaceflight conditions, the effects of a long-term mission on the human circulatory system and how charged particles behave in a magnetic field.
An enhanced small satellite deployer was installed in the Kibo module replacing an older model that deployed its last CubeSat on Monday. The new CubeSat deployer has twice the satellite deployment capacity than the previous version. CubeSats scheduled for release from the new deployer will study a variety of space phenomena and enable advanced satellite communications.
Also, the crew has been working on a number of research projects:
Commander Shane Kimbrough and NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson continued more maintenance work on the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace, a combustion research device that enables high temperature science. Whitson then worked on the Packed Bed Reactor Experiment gear that observes the behavior of gases and liquids.
Whitson and Pesquet later joined their Soyuz crewmate Oleg Novitskiy for a medical emergency drill. The three Expedition 50-51 crew members reviewed CPR procedures, medical hardware and their roles and responsibilities.
Written By: Mark Garcia NASA
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