Working with FASES. Credits: ESA/NASA

Working with FASES. Credits: ESA/NASA

An update from Columbus Control Centre:

Alexander has been taking very well to his life in orbit, always reacting positively to our demands on ground. Life for an astronaut is busy and full of tasks that we ask them to do, sometimes at Columbus Control Centre we are glad we are not in their shoes, or socks in this case!

Last week Alexander spent almost five hours removing and diagnosing the FASES experiment from the scientific rack in Columbus and installing the Geoflow experiment container. FASES is looking at emulsions while GeoFlow is an experiment that can simulate the molten lava of entire planets.

Some experiments require less time such as the Skin-B study that is looking at astronaut’s skin and how it adapts to the difficulties of living in space. It only takes half an hour to take a measurement so we planned it in between longer tasks, but of course this does mean that Alexander has to fly around the Station collecting the equipment and setting it up for the measurements before packing it all back again.

We keep him very busy! Alexander is one of the test subjects for this experiment: his NASA colleague astronaut Reid Wiseman will start his own series of readings: the more test subjects the better.

Typical workday for astronauts.

Typical workday for astronauts.

Keeping the Station running is another important task for our astronauts. Alexander spent an hour analysing a water pump in Europe’s Columbus laboratory to make sure that it is working correctly. A number of water pumps work continuously to keep the module and its experiments at the correct temperature. Making sure they work well is a menial and unglamorous task but a vital one.

In addition to the science and maintenance the astronauts spend their Saturday’s doing three hours of housekeeping. Cleaning, vacuuming, organising and so on. This is another part of an astronaut’s job that people tend to forget, just as on Earth, somebody has to clean up.

Planning and executing all these tasks requires constant coordination with our US partners in Houston and our Russian colleagues based near Moscow. One particular event is being planned in minute detail.

Around September the fourth Space-X Dragon will arrive at the Station with many experiments that need to be completed in time for its return to Earth, only four weeks later. Work is being done already now to plan Alexander’s activities down to the last minute of his stay, taking into account all the new experiments brought up by Dragon-4.