Astronauts Get Ready for Spacewalks After U.S. Cargo Ship Arrives

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JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Soichi Noguchi works on U.S. spacesuit gear inside the Quest airlock.
JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Soichi Noguchi works on U.S. spacesuit gear inside the Quest airlock.

Spacewalks are the focus now aboard the International Space Station as the Expedition 64 crew begins unloading four tons of cargo delivered Monday aboard a U.S. space freighter.

NASA astronauts Kate Rubins and Victor Glover are gearing up for a spacewalk on Sunday, Feb. 28, to ready the station for upcoming solar array upgrades. They will set their U.S. spacesuits to battery power at approximately 6 a.m. EST signifying the start of their spacewalk planned to last six-and-a-half hours. NASA TV will begin its live coverage of the spacewalk activities at 4:30 a.m.

NASA managers will discuss that spacewalk, including a March 5 spacewalk with Rubins and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Soichi Noguchi, on Wednesday during a live briefing on NASA TV set for 2 p.m. The second spacewalk will see Rubins and Noguchi work on upgrading coolant gear and communication systems.

The duo spent Tuesday servicing their spacesuits and practicing safety procedures inside the Quest airlock. Glover cleaned the spacesuit cooling water loops and tested the quality of the water samples collected from the loops. Rubins reviewed the spacesuit caution and warning system then checked glove heaters, helmet cameras and batteries.

In the midst of the spacewalk preparations, the orbital residents have begun unpacking the Northrop Grumman Cygnus resupply ship. NASA Flight Engineers Michael Hopkins and Shannon Walker have been offloading the new science hardware, crew supplies and station hardware stowed inside Cygnus. Noguchi transferred Cygnus’ science freezers containing biological samples into the station and installed them into specialized science racks. Rubins and Glover also assisted with the cargo transfers.

Commander Sergey Ryzhikov of Roscosmos started the day sampling the station’s air and surfaces for microbial analysis. He then inspected and photographed the hull of the Zvezda service module. Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov worked on Russian life support systems and station cameras while also assisting the commander with the Zvezda inspection duties.