Resupply Rocket at Launch Pad as Astronauts Prep for Third Spacewalk


Russia's Progress 72 resupply rocket
Russia’s Progress 72 resupply rocket stands at its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: Roscosmos

The Expedition 59 crew is ramping up for new supplies arriving at the International Space Station on Thursday and another spacewalk taking place on Monday. The orbital residents also managed to conduct ongoing microgravity science and life support maintenance today.

Flight Engineers Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacquesare readying their spacesuits and tools for a spacewalk set to begin Monday at 8:05 a.m. EDT. The spacewalking duo will install truss jumpers next week to provide a redundant power source to the Canadarm2 robotic arm.

Watch a 3-D animation depicting Monday’s spacewalk activities

Back on Earth, the Progress 72 (72P) resupply ship stands ready to blast off Thursday at 7:01 a.m. EDT from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Just two orbits later, it will catch up to the station carrying nearly three tons of food, fuel and supplies. It is scheduled to dock to the Pirs docking compartment at 10:25 a.m. where it will stay until the end of July. NASA TV will broadcast the launch and docking activities live.

Cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Alexey Ovchinin will monitor the 72P’s approach and rendezvous from inside the Zvezda service module. The duo will be at the controls of the TORU, a backup manual docking system, to guide the 72P to a docking in the unlikely event the 72P’s automatic Kurs docking system fails.

The astronauts also worked throughout Tuesday collecting blood and urine samples, spinning the samples in a centrifuge and storing them in a science freezer for later analysis. The cosmonauts explored space-piloting techniques before moving on to plumbing and atmosphere revitalization tasks.

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