While many Americans will have a good time the Fourth of July with a day without work from work, astronauts on the International Space Station are spending their holiday getting ready for a cargo ship’s return to Earth.
As federal workers, U.S. astronauts sometimes have Sundays off. Because July 4 falls on a Sunday this year, the federal holiday is formally noticed on Monday (July 5) as a substitute. But with a SpaceX Dragon cargo freighter scheduled to depart the space station Tuesday (July 6), there’s not a lot time to lounge round.
Instead, the crew “will be working on Monday, primarily to finish up experiments and get ready for Dragon’s departure,” NASA spokesman Dan Huot informed Space.com in an electronic mail. “As usual, if the crew does miss out on an off-day/holiday the teams will work to find a day-off for them down the road.”
The astronauts are of course barred from lighting any fireworks contained in the orbiting laboratory, however they will nonetheless spend their Sunday enjoyable with their households by way of video chat.
Of the seven crewmembers presently residing and dealing on board the International Space Station, three are NASA astronauts: Shane Kimbrough, Meghan McArthur and Mark Vande Hei. Also on board are two Russian cosmonauts, Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov, European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Thomas Pesquet and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide.
The three U.S. crewmembers, together with Pesquet and Hoshide, have spent a number of days getting ready the Dragon cargo spacecraft for its return to Earth. On Monday they may end loading crucial analysis samples contained in the Dragon. Those numerous analysis samples can be analyzed by scientists on Earth after the Dragon splashes down.
SpaceX’s cargo ship is scheduled to undock from the station at 11:05 a.m. EDT (1505 GMT) Tuesday, and it’ll splash down in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida about two days later, according to NASA.
The cargo ship arrived at the station June 5 to ship provides and science experiments for the Expedition 65 crew, together with new solar arrays that astronauts have been working to put in with a collection of spacewalks.
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