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Space science takes hold before the trio leaves the ISS for Earth

Cosmonaut Ivan Vagner transfers biological samples

Cosmonaut Roscosmos and Expedition 63 flight engineer Ivan Vagner transfer biological samples to a scientific freezer for stowage and subsequent analysis aboard the International Space Station. Credit: NASA Johnson

Science is doubling down on the International Space Station with the addition of three new space residents. However, they will separate on October 21 before four more astronauts are launched to join the Expedition 64 crew in November.

NASA Astronaut Kate Rubins, on her second station mission, is stepping into her role as a space scientist today as she gets up to speed with life in orbit. She wore virtual reality glasses to explore how her sense of perception is adapting to microgravity. Rubins later served a biological research device capable of producing up to 2 g of artificial gravity.

Rubins’ teammates Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov will stay with her in space until April. Ryzhikov, on his second stay aboard the orbiting laboratory, unpacked cargo from the new Soyuz MS-17 crew ship today. The first Kud-Sverchkov space flight controlled Russian scientific hardware.

Station commander Chris Cassidy is nearing the end of his stay aboard the station with crew members Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner. The trio packed their goods and personal items inside the Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft that will parachute the crew to Earth on 21 October. Cassidy will hand over command of the station to Ryzhikov on October 20.

All six of the station’s residents gathered in the middle of the day and reviewed their roles and responsibilities in an emergency.

Meanwhile, four astronauts are planning to launch to the station aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle. The first mission of the company’s operational crew should be launched no earlier than beginning in mid-November. NASA Commander Mike Hopkins will lead pilot Victor Glover and mission specialists Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi and will remain in space until spring.

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