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SpaceX’s Dragon Plays the Weather Waiting Game: ISS Crew in Action

Nighttime View of Southern Europe From ISS

This nighttime view of southern Europe looks northwest to southeast from Milan, Italy (bottom right), and across the Adriatic Sea to Split, Croatia. The International Space Station was orbiting 263 miles above eastern France at the time of this photograph. Credit: NASA

The Expedition 70 crew is continuing to pack a U.S. cargo spacecraft readying for its departure early next week. The seven residents living aboard the International Space Station (ISS) also explored virtual reality while servicing a variety of science and life support hardware.

NASA and SpaceX are postponing the Sunday, December 17, undocking of a SpaceX Dragon cargo resupply spacecraft from the International Space Station due to unfavorable weather conditions as a cold front passes through the splashdown zones off the coast of Florida.

Joint teams continue to evaluate weather conditions to determine the best opportunity for Dragon to autonomously undock from the space station with the next available opportunity no earlier than 5:05 p.m. EST Monday, December 18.

Tokyo City Lights From ISS

The vibrant city lights of Tokyo were pictured from the International Space Station as it orbited 261 miles above. Credit: NASA

Weather permitting for the Monday undocking, coverage of Dragon’s departure will begin at 4:45 p.m. on the NASA+ streaming service via the web or the NASA app. Coverage also will air live on NASA Television, YouTube, and on the agency’s website. After re-entering Earth’s atmosphere, the spacecraft will splash down off the coast of Florida, which will not be broadcast on NASA TV.

Astronauts Jasmin Moghbeli of NASA and Satoshi Furukawa of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) resumed transferring science-packed cargo freezers from the station’s EXPRESS racks and into Dragon. The duo activated and configured the science freezers inside Dragon securing the preserved biological samples for retrieval and analysis on Earth.

Earlier, Moghbeli swapped out hardware inside the Solution Crystallization Observation Facility, a research device that investigates the morphology and growth of crystals. She also shook mixture tubes containing seed samples for a space botany study. Furukawa reconnected a power and communications unit inside combustion research hardware located in the Kibo laboratory module.

Dubai City Lights From ISS

Palm Jumeirah, the palm tree-shaped artificial island, is a highlight in the United Arab Emirates’ city of Dubai in this nighttime photograph from the International Space Station as it orbited 258 miles above the Persian Gulf. Credit: NASA

Commander Andreas Mogensen from ESA (European Space Agency) started his day on an experiment that aims to strengthen computer programming skills and promote STEM careers for students on Earth. Mogensen later wore virtual reality goggles and watched a 360-degree movie to understand its stabilizing effect on the nervous system for the VR Mental Care experiment.

NASA Flight Engineer Loral O’Hara of NASA spent her day working on lab maintenance throughout the orbital outpost. She replaced orbital plumbing components and deployed a portable fan inside the Tranquility module then swapped out a broken wireless antenna in the Unity module.

The space station’s three cosmonauts stayed focused on their contingent of science activities and orbital systems upkeep. Flight Engineers Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub once again scanned their stomachs with an ultrasound device after breakfast for a Roscosmos space digestion study. Kononenko then repositioned eggs inside an incubator for a biology experiment while Chub transferred dismantled life support gear from the Zarya module and into Unity. Flight Engineer Konstantin Borisov spent his morning on orbital plumbing tasks then finished the day photographing and inspecting windows on the Zvezda service module.

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