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Astronauts Conduct Bone and Optical Fiber Studies As Ax-3 Crew Nears Departure From Station

This high exposure photograph from the International Space Station shows Earth’s atmospheric glow and a starry sky as the orbital complex soared 258 miles above the Pacific Ocean northeast of Papua New Guinea. At left, are the station’s Nauka science module and the Prichal docking module, both from Roscosmos. Credit: NASA

Four Axiom Mission 3 (Ax-3) astronauts continue waiting for favorable weather conditions before ending their stay at the International Space StationThe International Space Station (ISS) is a large spacecraft in orbit around the Earth that serves as a research laboratory and spaceport for international collaboration in space exploration. It was launched in 1998 and has been continuously occupied by rotating crews of astronauts and cosmonauts from around the world since 2000. The ISS is a joint project of five space agencies: NASA (USA), Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (Europe), and CSA (Canada). It orbits the Earth at an altitude of approximately 400 kilometers (250 miles), and provides a unique platform for scientific research, technological development, and human space exploration.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]” tabindex=”0″ role=”link”>International Space Station (ISS). Meanwhile, the seven-member Expedition 70 crew focused its research objectives on bone health and high-quality optical fibers on Tuesday.

Mission managers from NASAEstablished in 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government that succeeded the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). It is responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. Its vision is "To discover and expand knowledge for the benefit of humanity." Its core values are "safety, integrity, teamwork, excellence, and inclusion." NASA conducts research, develops technology and launches missions to explore and study Earth, the solar system, and the universe beyond. It also works to advance the state of knowledge in a wide range of scientific fields, including Earth and space science, planetary science, astrophysics, and heliophysics, and it collaborates with private companies and international partners to achieve its goals.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]” tabindex=”0″ role=”link”>NASA, SpaceXCommonly known as SpaceX, Space Exploration Technologies Corp. is a private American aerospace manufacturer and space transport services company that was founded by Elon Musk in 2002. Headquartered in Hawthorne, California, the company designs, manufactures, and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft. SpaceX's ultimate goal is to reduce space transportation costs and enable the colonization of Mars.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]” tabindex=”0″ role=”link”>SpaceX, and Axiom Space waved off Tuesday’s planned undocking for the Ax-3 mission aboard the SpaceX Dragon Freedom spacecraft. Ax-3 is now targeted to undock from the Harmony module’s forward port no earlier than 9:05 a.m. EST on Wednesday. Officials will continue to monitor the weather at the potential splashdown sites off Florida’s coast before giving the final go for Ax-3 to return to Earth.

Ax-3 Crew’s Space Endeavors

Veteran astronaut Michael López-Alegría is commanding Ax-3 leading Pilot Walter Villadei and Mission Specialists Alper Gezeravcı and Marcus Wandt on their first spaceflight. The foursome docked to the orbital laboratory on January 20 beginning two weeks of science, educational, and commercial activities. All four Ax-3 astronauts spent their 17th day in space performing light science duties, photographing Earth, and relaxing.

Clouds Stop on the Peaks of the Snow-Capped Alps

Clouds stop on the peaks of the snow-capped Alps that separate Italy’s Po Valley from Austria in this photograph from the International Space Station as it orbited 261 miles above. Credit: NASA

Expedition 70’s Research and Maintenance Activities

The Expedition 70 crew stayed busy learning how to keep humans healthy in space and improve optical fiber production processes. The orbital septet also kept up its ongoing cargo work and life support maintenance.

NASA Flight Engineer Loral O’Hara spent the day processing bone cell samples obtained from human donors on Earth. She was exploring space-caused bone loss helping doctors learn how to protect and treat astronauts on long-term missions. Results may also inform treatments for bone conditions on Earth.

Astronaut Loral O’Hara Poses in Front of Advanced Plant Habitat

NASA astronaut and Expedition 70 Flight Engineer Loral O’Hara poses in front of the Kibo laboratory module’s Advanced Plant Habitat housing tomato plants for an experiment investigating how the plant immune system adapts to spaceflight and how spaceflight affects plant production. Credit: NASA

Advancements in Space-Based Research

Several investigations on the space station have tested producing optical fibers using the microgravity environment that are higher quality than those made on Earth. The newest investigation, Flawless Space Fibers-1, is examining fiber drawn aboard the station and comparing the results to samples drawn on Earth. NASA Flight Engineer Jasmin Moghbeli set up the experiment inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox that may expand commercial production opportunities in space and communication and remote-sensing applications on Earth.

Commander Andreas Mogensen from ESA (European Space AgencyThe European Space Agency (ESA) is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration and study of space. ESA was established in 1975 and has 22 member states, with its headquarters located in Paris, France. ESA is responsible for the development and coordination of Europe's space activities, including the design, construction, and launch of spacecraft and satellites for scientific research and Earth observation. Some of ESA's flagship missions have included the Rosetta mission to study a comet, the Gaia mission to create a 3D map of the Milky Way, and the ExoMars mission to search for evidence of past or present life on Mars.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]” tabindex=”0″ role=”link”>European Space Agency) treated blood samples that are being analyzed to understand how weightlessness impacts an astronaut’s immune system. Flight Engineer Satoshi Furukawa from JAXAFormed in 2003, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) was born through the merger of three institutions, namely the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS), the National Aerospace Laboratory of Japan (NAL) and the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA). JAXA performs various activities related to aerospace, from basic research in the aerospace field to development and utilization and is responsible for research, technology development, and launch of satellites into orbit, and is involved in advanced missions such as asteroid exploration and possible human exploration of the Moon.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]” tabindex=”0″ role=”link”>JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) worked in the Kibo laboratory module and checked out a free-flying camera robot for its ability to videotape and photograph activities on behalf of the crew.

The three cosmonauts representing RoscosmosRoscosmos, also known as the Roscosmos State Corporation for Space Activities, is the Russian government agency responsible for space activities, including the development and operation of spacecraft, launch vehicles, and space stations. It was formed in 2015 through the merger of the Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and the United Rocket and Space Corporation. Roscosmos is responsible for Russia's space program and works closely with other international space agencies on joint projects, such as the International Space Station. The agency is also involved in a wide range of space-related activities, including scientific research, earth observation, telecommunications, and manned spaceflight.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]” tabindex=”0″ role=”link”>Roscosmos spent their day readying a cargo ship for its departure while maintaining orbital lab systems. Veteran Flight Engineer Oleg Kononenko packed the Progress 85 resupply ship with discarded gear for disposal ahead of the spacecraft’s departure planned for next week. Flight Engineer Nikolai Chub set up a personal carbon dioxide monitor and then collected hair samples to be examined for a Roscosmos space adaptation study. Flight Engineer Konstantin Borisov spent his day servicing orbital plumbing gear and electronics components.

Source: SciTechDaily