Human Research Revealing Space Impacts as Spacewalk Preps Gear Up

Expedition 60 Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan of NASA
Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan works with the BioFabrication Facility that is researching whether the weightless environment of space may support the fabrication of human organs.

The Expedition 60 crew kicked off the workweek exploring stem cells and testing the printing of human tissue on the International Space Station. The astronauts are also gearing up for a spacewalk planned for next week.

Operations continue inside the orbiting lab’s new BioFabrication Facility today. Astronaut Nick Hague printed more human tissue samples Monday and stowed them in an incubator to observe and promote their cellular growth.

Flight Engineer Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency set up the Life Science Glovebox in the Kibo laboratory module and researched the properties of stem cells. The space-based Micro-15 experiment is helping scientists understand stem cell differentiation better than ground-based studies. Results may provide therapeutic insights into ailments affecting humans on Earth and in space.

Early this morning, Parmitano joined NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan for hearing tests. Scientists are measuring how the microgravity environment and the acoustic levels of the station affect a crewmember’s hearing before, during and after a mission.

Morgan then partnered up with astronaut Christina Koch in the afternoon to configure spacewalking tools and spacesuit components. Morgan will follow lead spacewalker Nick Hague out of the Quest airlock hatch on Aug. 21 for a six hour and 30 minute spacewalk. The duo will install the International Docking Adapter-3 designed to receive new commercial crew vehicles from Boeing and SpaceX.

Cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Alexander Skvortsov spent their morning learning how the gastrointestinal system adapts to long-term spaceflight. The duo performed ultrasound scans of their gut before and after eating breakfast. Ovchinin then packed gear for return on a future Soyuz landing as Skvortsov checked Russian video and photography gear.