Latest Updates on the ISS: Expedition 70 Commences, Rubio Sets New Space Duration Record, Technical Glitches Occur, and Upcoming Extravehicular Activities

The International Space Station (ISS) has been facing a series of challenges in recent months, but the crew of Expedition 70 is determined to overcome them. After two crew handovers and technical issues such as a seized-up rotary joint and a coolant leak, the crew is now preparing for upcoming spacewalks. Let’s take a closer look at the recent events and what lies ahead for the ISS.

Expedition 70 officially began when the Soyuz MS-23 spacecraft departed from the Station on September 27. The crew members onboard, cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin, along with NASA astronaut Frank Rubio, safely landed in Kazakhstan after an extended mission that lasted over a year instead of the planned six months. Rubio, in particular, set a new U.S. space endurance record, spending 371 days in space and becoming the first American to spend over one calendar year continuously in space.

Rubio’s journey to the ISS was his first flight to space. Born in Los Angeles and of Salvadoran descent, Rubio is a certified family physician, flight surgeon, and a former U.S. Army helicopter pilot and combat veteran. He joined NASA Astronaut Group 22 in 2017 and has made significant contributions to space exploration.

One of the major challenges faced by the ISS crew recently was a coolant leak on the Russian segment of the Station. The leak was discovered on the Nauka science module and was found to originate from one of its radiators. However, controllers have reassured that the primary thermal control circuit on Nauka is operating normally, and there is no danger to the crew or the Station. The leak has since ceased, and images taken by Expedition 70 commander Andreas Mogensen will be analyzed for further information.

While dealing with the coolant leak situation, the Expedition 70 crew has also been preparing for upcoming spacewalks. Russian EVA-61 is scheduled for October 25, during which cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub will install a synthetic radar communications system, deploy a solar sail technology satellite, and replace electrical connector patch panels on the Russian segment of the Station. Following this, U.S. EVA-89 is scheduled for October 30, during which astronauts Jasmin Moghbeli and Loral O’Hara will remove an antenna electronics box and replace a trundle bearing assembly on the port solar array rotary joint (SARJ).

The SARJ plays a critical role in the operation of the Station, as it rotates the large solar arrays mounted to the truss. The loss of this capability would have a significant impact on Station operations. The Expedition 70 crew will be conducting repairs and replacements to ensure the continued functioning of the SARJ.

Alongside these challenges, the crew has been busy with various experiments and preparations for future missions. They have filled the Cygnus NG-19 S.S. Laurel Clark spacecraft with trash, worked on the Complement of Integrated Protocols for Human Exploration Research on Varying Mission Durations (CIPHER) suite of human health studies, and prepared for the launch of a SpaceX Cargo Dragon on the CRS-29 mission.

Despite the technical issues and setbacks faced by Expedition 70, the crew remains committed to their mission. They are determined to overcome these challenges and continue their important work aboard the ISS. With upcoming spacewalks and ongoing research, there is much to look forward to in the coming months for the crew of Expedition 70.