After being sent into space atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on November 26, the Dragon resupply ship has arrived at the ISS and is ready to begin unloading cargo. Many thousands of pounds of cargo have been unpacked by the Expedition 68 crew. New hardware to greatly enhance the ISS’s power generation system, along with new botany, biology, and physics trials, are among the payloads awaiting release from Dragon.
Less than two hours after Dragon docked on November 27, NASA flight engineer Josh Cassada boarded the spacecraft. Soon after, Frank Rubio and Koichi Wakata of JAXA and Nicole Mann of NASA joined him. On Sunday, the crew of four astronauts unloaded the space lab’s experiments and samples.
On Monday, the crew began a new set of experiments to investigate the efficacy of skin and bone recovery in space by assembling sophisticated equipment. Wakata started the day by putting fresh skin samples in the BioLab freezer and fresh bone cell samples in the Kubik incubator. One will examine the effects of microgravity on bone cells, while the other will track the recovery of sutured wounds in space.
On the same day, NASA’s Astronauts Mann and Rubio worked together to install cutting-edge biology equipment and move samples from Dragon into the station’s labs. The astronauts are about to begin studying the effects of microgravity on skeletal stem cell regeneration, which could one day aid in the treatment of bone conditions on both Earth and in space.
The unpressurized trunk segment of Dragon carried the science experimentation and supplies, as well as a pair of new roll-out solar arrays. This week, ground-based robotic controllers will direct the Canadarm2 robotic arm to start removing the solar arrays and install them on the truss structure of the space station. Two spacewalks by NASA astronauts Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio are scheduled to take place before the close of the year in order to put in the new solar arrays.
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