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Expedition 64 continued human research studies today, focusing on space construction and technology investigations. Spacesuit maintenance is also wrapped up for the week aboard the International Space Station.
The lack of gravity in space is not the only factor affecting the human body. Solar radiation is also a concern as NASA has plans for missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond. The station’s astronauts tested the new AstroRad vest this week for more than just radiation protection, but also comfort and fit. The design of the vest spreads over protective gear designed for emergency personnel responding to incidents of radiation exposure on Earth.
Muscle measurements and ultrasound scans were on schedule today for long-running myotones experiments. Blood samples are also taken to help doctors understand and treat muscle atrophy during spaceflight. Daily exercise complements this disadvantage, but insights from the investigation may provide alternative treatments for space staff, as well as the position of earthbound muscles.
Microgravity provides an ideal environment for the production of high quality optic fibers manufactured on Earth. The samples of optic fiber produced at the station’s microgravity science glowbox were swapped for a fiber optic production manufacturing study going on there today, which could help reduce space exploration.
Another study looking at optical communications today is testing a high-speed, high-capacity downlink of data from an orbiting lab. A unique, small pointing mechanism was installed for operation from Japan’s Kibo Laboratory Module for SOLISS technology demonstration. The experiment uses lasers and can advance space communication and transmission of data from remote locations on Earth.
The crew cleaned the US Quest airlock today after a weeklong series of spacesuit maintenance tasks inside the spacewalk staging module. The components of America’s spacesuit were upgraded, cleaned, and cleaned throughout the week as station managers begin planning spacewalks for 2021. Another spacesuit packed inside the SpaceX Cargo Dragon Reassembly ship to return to Earth in January.
The new Nanocrax Bishop airlock, delivered on December 7 in SpaceX Cargo Dragon’s unpainted trunk, will be installed this weekend in a tranquility module using the Canaderm 2 robotic arm. Bishop will increase capacity for commercial research, enable the release of large satellites, and expand equipment transfer into and out of the station.
I’m a science journalist and host of Cosmic Controversy (brucedorminey.podbean.com) as well as author of “Distant Wanderers: the Search for Planets Beyond the Solar System.” I primarily cover aerospace and astronomy. I’m a former Hong Kong bureau chief for Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine and former Paris-based technology correspondent for the Financial Times newspaper who has reported from six continents. A 1998 winner in the Royal Aeronautical Society’s Aerospace Journalist of the Year Awards (AJOYA), I’ve interviewed Nobel Prize winners and written about everything from potato blight to dark energy. Previously, I was a film and arts correspondent in New York and Europe, primarily for newspaper outlets like the International Herald Tribune, the Boston Globe and Canada’s Globe & Mail. Recently, I’ve contributed to Scientific American.com, Nature News, Physics World, and Yale Environment 360.com. I’m a current contributor to Astronomy and Sky & Telescope and a correspondent for Renewable Energy World. Twitter @bdorminey