Astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet put on their self-contained spacesuits and headed outside the International Space Station on Friday for a six-and-a-half hour excursion to prepare for the relocation of a docking adapter, service the lab’s Dextre robot, and install a new computer relay box.
NASA is gearing up for an intense few weeks of work aboard the International Space Station, staging three spacewalks, moving a docking port from one module to another to support commercial crew ferry ships and capturing an Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo ship carrying nearly 4 tons of equipment and supplies.
SpaceX’s Dragon cargo craft ended a four-week mission Sunday with a parachute-assisted splashdown in the Pacific Ocean, returning from the International Space Station with more than 3,600 pounds of cargo, blood and urine samples, and specimens from a rodent research experiment aimed at helping patients with catastrophic bone injuries and osteoporosis.
After 24 days at the International Space Station, SpaceX’s Dragon supply ship came back to Earth on Sunday with more than 5,400 pounds of cargo, human and animal research specimens, and other gear tagged for the trip home. Release from the station’s robotic arm occurred at 5:11 a.m. EDT (0911 GMT), and splashdown in the Pacific Ocean was a few minutes before 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT).
NASA has purchased two seats on Russian Soyuz capsules launching later this year and in early 2018 to expand the crew on the U.S. segment of the International Space Station from three to four, and reserved options to fly astronauts on Soyuz spacecraft in 2019 if commercial rides are not available in time.