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Cargo and science operations aboard ISS begin work week

Stephen Kuper

A Russian cargo spacecraft is set to depart the International Space Station following seven months in orbit, as the five-member crew of Expedition 63 stayed busy supporting the maintenance of space research gear and life support hardware.

Cargo and science operations aboard ISS begin work week
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The Progress 74 (74P) resupply ship is being packed with trash and obsolete gear today ahead of its undocking on Wednesday – the 74P has been attached to the Pirs docking compartment since 9 December 2019 where it docked carrying nearly three tonnes of food, fuel and supplies for the orbital residents.

After separating from the station, the 74P will fire its de-orbit engines over the south Pacific and burn up safely in the Earth’s atmosphere. 

The Progress 76 (76P), the next cargo ship to replenish the crew, is scheduled to launch on 23 July and dock to Pirs just two orbits later. The station will slightly lower its orbit on Saturday to accommodate the approach and rendezvous of 76P.

This follows last week’s orbital maneuver to boost the station out of the way of a piece of rocket debris near its flight path.

Amid the cargo craft operations, the space lab residents serviced a variety of advanced science equipment today. The operations are continuing the numerous space experiments benefiting humans on Earth and in space.

Commander Chris Cassidy stowed satellite deployment gear before cleaning a specialised furnace that enables observation of materials heated to extreme temperatures. Flight Engineers Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken juggled an array of orbital plumbing, computer maintenance, light installation and sensor battery swap tasks.

Cosmonaut Anatoli Ivanishin replaced fuel bottles inside the Combustion Integrated Rack to continue safe fuel and flame research. Fellow cosmonaut Ivan Vagner checked smoke detectors and photographed the Earth while wrapping up cargo operations in the 74P.

The duo started the day measuring their body mass using a device that applies a known force to the crew member with the resulting acceleration providing a mass calculation.

Expedition 63 began in April 2020 and ends in October 2020. This expedition will include research investigations focused on biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences and technology development, providing the foundation for continuing human spaceflight beyond low-Earth orbit to the moon and Mars. 

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