The crew of the International Space Station prepares a cargo ship for departure and prepares for a spacewalk.

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The crew of the International Space Station prepares a cargo ship for departure and prepares for a spacewalk.

As the US Cygnus space freighter approaches departure this weekend after 100 days berthed to the station’s Unity module, the Expedition 66 crew is focusing on it. The astronauts are also planning for a spacewalk on the International Space Station to replace a broken antenna system.

Astronauts Thomas Marshburn, Raja Chari, and Mark Vande Hei spent Wednesday afternoon loading trash and old equipment onto Cygnus. Matthias Maurer of the European Space Agency (ESA) continued the cargo loading on Thursday. On Saturday at 11 a.m. EST, he’ll be at the robots workstation observing its departure. Starting at 10:45 a.m., robotics operators operating the Canadarm2 robotic arm from Earth will order Cygnus’ release live on NASA TV.

Cygnus will complete one more mission before reentering Earth’s atmosphere for a fiery but safe destruction above the Pacific Ocean. Three Cygnus capsules will be used in the Kentucky Re-entry Probe Experiment to capture and transmit thermal data from sensors implanted in heat shields. The information might be used to verify thermal protection systems in space and heat shield materials on the ground.

Meanwhile, Marshburn and NASA Flight Engineer Kayla Barron will soon leave the US Quest airlock to replace the S-Band Antenna System with a spare that has already been connected outside the station. Maurer will be at the helm of the Canadarm2 for the six-and-a-half-hour spacewalk, assisting the duo.

NASA Flight Engineers Raja Chari and Mark Vande Hei joined Marshburn and Barron inside Quest on Thursday to try on their US spacesuits for a fit check. During the spacewalk, Chari and Vande Hei will be on duty to keep an eye on the two astronauts and assist them in and out of their spacesuits. On Monday, Nov. 29, a press conference will be held to discuss the spacewalk activities.

The team returned to science on Thursday, investigating human research, botany, and space physics. Chari and Barron investigated how astronauts perceive up and down motions, as well as how they grip and control items. In the absence of gravity. Inside the Advanced Plant Habitat, Vande Hei cleared up garbage around chile pepper plants. Finally, Roscosmos station commander Anton Shkaplerov exchanged samples inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox for a physics study aimed at improving the creation of better semiconductor crystals.

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