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Ax-3 Crew Joins Expedition 70 in Space Station for Dual Operations and Research
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Ax-3 Crew Joins Expedition 70 in Space Station for Dual Operations and Research
by Clarence Oxford
Los Angeles CA (SPX) Jan 23, 2024

The International Space Station (ISS), a cornerstone of global space research and cooperation, is currently bustling with activity as it houses eleven astronauts and cosmonauts from across the globe. This unique congregation of space professionals is the result of the collaboration between the seven members of Expedition 70 and the four astronauts of Axiom Mission 3 (Ax-3), who commenced their two-week period of dual operations this past Saturday.

Ax-3, a private astronaut mission by Axiom Space, marks a significant step in the expanding role of private companies in space exploration. Over the weekend, the Ax-3 crew, led by Commander Michael Lopez-Alegria, a seasoned space veteran, spent time acclimating to the ISS's environment. Their focus was on understanding the space station systems and emergency procedures, a foundational step before embarking on their ambitious schedule filled with scientific research and media interactions starting Monday.

The scientific endeavors of the Ax-3 crew are diverse and critical to our understanding of life in space and on Earth. Commander Lopez-Alegria and Pilot Walter Villadei concentrated on a study exploring how microgravity influences the biochemistry of neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer's.

Their research aims to yield insights that could benefit health both in space and on our home planet. In parallel, they delved into a cancer research study, employing a fluorescence microscope to examine samples, a venture aimed at both predicting and preventing cancer for space crews and Earth's population.

Complementing these efforts, Mission Specialist Alper Gezeravci directed his attention to a space botany experiment. This research is particularly significant as it seeks to enhance life support systems on spacecraft and improve agricultural yields on Earth. Concurrently, Mission Specialist Marcus Wandt delved into the realm of plasma physics, observing unique properties of low-temperature gaseous mixtures in a microgravity environment.

The Expedition 70 crew, comprising astronauts and cosmonauts from various international space agencies, including NASA and JAXA, paralleled the efforts of the Ax-3 team. They engaged in a myriad of science and maintenance tasks while lending support to their new colleagues.

A highlight of their activities involved preparations for an upcoming Cygnus cargo mission. NASA Flight Engineers Loral O'Hara and Jasmin Moghbeli reviewed mission profiles and rendezvous procedures in anticipation of the Cygnus spacecraft's arrival. They will play a pivotal role in maneuvering the Canadarm2 robotic arm to securely capture the cargo spacecraft upon its approach to the ISS.

The Expedition 70 crew's activities also extended to routine health maintenance, exemplified by astronaut Satoshi Furukawa from JAXA and his colleagues undertaking a standard vision test, a reminder of the everyday challenges faced in a microgravity environment. Additionally, Furukawa's organization of food supplies and maintenance of science and life support equipment underscores the ongoing operational needs of the space station.

Astronaut Andreas Mogensen's involvement in the VR Mental Care study points to the creative approaches being employed to address the psychological well-being of crew members in space. This study, exploring the potential morale-boosting effects of virtual reality movies, is a testament to the innovative solutions being developed for long-duration space missions.

Meanwhile, in the Roscosmos segment of the ISS, the Russian cosmonauts focused on their science and maintenance tasks. Notable among these was the installation of hardware for Earth observation experiments by cosmonaut Konstantin Borisov, including a student-controlled camera and a study observing the nighttime atmosphere in ultraviolet wavelengths.

Oleg Kononenko, a veteran flight engineer, contributed to the station's operational efficiency by updating computer software and engaging in studies to enhance piloting techniques for future planetary missions. Flight Engineer Nikolai Chub's participation in a heart study and his inventory of medical gear are indicative of the constant emphasis on health and safety aboard the ISS.

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