The Expedition 66 crew is turning its attention to the departure of three crew members late next week following the completion of a pair of spacewalks.
The International Space Station is also gearing up to welcome the first private astronaut mission aboard a SpaceX Dragon vehicle in early April.
Two astronauts had medical checkups and a light duty day today following Wednesday's spacewalk to install thermal gear and electronics components on the orbiting lab. Flight Engineers Raja Chari and Matthias Maurer spent a few moments Thursday morning getting blood pressure, temperature, and heart rate and breathing checks. The duo spent six hours and 54 minutes on Wednesday working outside the orbital lab readying it for a third roll-out solar array and connecting cables to the Bartolomeo science platform on the Columbus laboratory module. They were joined Thursday afternoon by NASA astronauts Kayla Barron and Tom Marshburn for a conference with spacewalk specialists on the ground.
The four astronauts also called down to mission controllers and discussed the upcoming private astronaut mission from Axiom currently targeted for launch no earlier than April 3. NASA, SpaceX, and Axiom mission managers will hold a media teleconference one hour after NASA's Flight Readiness Review, or approximately Friday at 6 p.m. EDT following their flight readiness review. Former NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria will command the Axiom-1 mission with Pilot Larry Connor and Mission Specialists Eytan Stibbe and Mark Pathy aboard the SpaceX Dragon Endeavour vehicle.
In the meantime, NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei is nearing his return to Earth with cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov on March 30. The trio will enter the Soyuz MS-19 crew ship, undock from the Rassvet module, and parachute to landing in Kazakhstan. Vande Hei will land with a NASA-record breaking 355 days in space surpassing former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly's single spaceflight record of 340 days.
Shkaplerov continued packing the Soyuz MS-19 crew ship while Dubrov helped the station's three newest crew members get familiar with space station systems. Veteran cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev with first time space-flyers Sergey Korsakov and Denis Matveev are in the first week of six-and-a-half month mission that began on March 18 when they arrived aboard the Soyuz MS-21 crew ship.