After NASA astronauts Douglas Hurley and Bob Behnken returned to Earth in the first splashdown in forty-five years, the International Space Station (ISS) still has three more humans on board who are committed to a rather fascinating research.
In April 2020, NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy arrived at the International Space Station with the aforementioned Russian cosmonauts. The 6-month mission was named Expedition 63, and it took off with the impression that the trio will examine a total of 160 science investigations in this period.
The astronauts reached the ISS from the Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft, which lifted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on a 6-hour flight. Cassidy and the team were assigned to conduct experimentation in biology, earth sciences, human experimentation, and technology development.
The team, as part of the most recent research plan, will investigate free-flying robots, planetary bodies, and water droplets, among other things. The trio has also worked on communication gears and life support devices.
Recently, Astro Chris examined dynamic granular material samples that simulate planetary surfaces. The Columbus lab of the European Space Agency (ESA) is conducting the experiment. The study is vital in terms of guiding potential future planetary exploration missions.
Cassidy also worked on botany and fluid physics. He worked on the Habitat-02 to study the nature of plants in microgravity – to understand the capabilities of food production, cultivating conditions such as growth light and effects of soil. He worked on an acoustic shield to protect the plants from the station noises. Besides this, Cassidy conducted research to improve water conservation and water pressure on Earth.
As for the Russian cosmonaut flight engineers, the main chunk of contribution was towards orbital science and laboratory support. Anatoly Ivanishin worked on video equipment and air purifier before hopping onto Earth studies. Ivan Vagner, on the other hand, gathered samples to analyze microbial lifeforms apart from working on ways to improve connections with mission controllers, students, and space crews.
NASA has reported that the trio is expected to return to Earth in October.
What’s The Big Deal About The International Space Station (ISS)?
NASA and its collaborators are preparing for human flights to the moon, Mars, and other sites in the space. The Internation Space Station offers a lot of opportunities required to achieve this endeavor. ISS provides a platform to learn about the long-lasting impacts of microgravity on a variety of structures.
For more than 20 years, humans have continuously been sent to the ISS. These astronauts have led several projects during their sojourn to come up with breakthroughs in space exploration. In these 20 years, more than 239 astronauts from 19 countries have driven over 2800 space and science projects.
As mentioned earlier, SpaceX has successfully completed its demonstration mission to ISS and has already booked two full-fledged Crew Dragon missions for the future. SpaceX Crew-1 is expected to take off on 27th September of this year. SpaceX Crew-2 is anticipated to take flight on 30th March 2021. Russia is also planning the launch of three members as part of the Expedition-64 mission, which will take place just a week before the Expedition-63 crew returns back to Earth in October this year.