The crew of the space station is preparing for a couple of cargo missions, which will start this week

The multi-purpose laboratory module “Science” and the dock module “Mooring” are depicted as a space station orbiting Australia. Author: NASA

The Russian cargo ship is at the launch pad and counts down to take off tonight to replenish the International Space Station. Meanwhile, the Expedition crew of 66 out of seven focused on various research activities in preparation for the next cargo mission, which is due to arrive early next week.

The Russian ISS Progress 80 is on the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, loaded with almost three tons of food, fuel and materials. 80th a cargo mission from Roscosmos is scheduled to launch today at 11:25 p.m. EST and is automatically docked Search module on Thursday at 2:06 live[{” attribute=””>NASA TV and the agency’s website and the NASA app.

A U.S. cargo mission is also on tap to launch on Saturday at 12:40 p.m. from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The Northrop Grumman Cygnus space freighter will arrive at a point about 10 meters from the space station when the Canadarm2 robotic arm, commanded by NASA Flight Engineer Raja Chari, will capture the vehicle at 4:35 a.m. next Monday. Robotics controllers on the ground will take over shortly afterward and remotely install Cygnus to the Unity module a couple of hours later. Chari and his back up NASA Flight Engineer Kayla Barron are training today on a computer for the upcoming robotics activities.

While two rockets are getting ready to blast off to the orbiting lab this week, the space lab residents stayed busy today with space science and station maintenance activities.

NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei continued setting up the Combustion Integrated Rack for the upcoming SoFIE, or Solid Fuel Ignition and Extinction, series of fire safety studies. Astronaut Matthias Maurer of ESA (European Space Agency) participated in a vision test then wore a specialized body suit that stimulates muscles for the EasyMotion exercise study. NASA astronaut Thomas Marshburn started the day on computer maintenance before spending the afternoon in the Tranquility module working on the U.S. treadmill.

Commander Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos activated the EarthKAM experiment in the Harmony module for a weeklong session of Earth photography remotely-controlled by students on the ground. Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov continued setting up the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module for operations. The crew of the space station is preparing for a couple of cargo missions, which will start this week

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