NASA has confirmed that it is extending the length of time two astronauts will remain on the ISS. The two crewmembers are having their time aboard the station extended to nearly a year. The announcement of extended stays for the astronauts comes as work aboard the orbiting laboratory has increased. NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov will continue to live aboard the space station until March of next year.
With the extended mission, Vande Hei will hold the record for the longest single spaceflight for an American astronaut when he returns to Earth. While the astronauts will remain aboard the station to work, there are upsides to extending the stay for NASA. For example, the agency will gain additional insight into how the body adapts to long-term spaceflight.
Learning how humans deal with long-term spaceflight is important as NASA looks to the future with Artemis missions exploring the moon and missions to Mars in sight. With two additional crew members aboard the space station, additional research can be performed. NASA notes that rodents living aboard ISS will be studied to gain an understanding of how microgravity impacts biological systems.
Astronaut Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough have been training for the Rodent Research-1 Demonstration, which is an experiment that will be conducted inside the Kibo laboratory module. Specifically, the study is to gain an understanding into how weightlessness affects skin function and wound healing.
As astronauts training for new research, they also spent time detaching a new carbon dioxide scrubber from the Cargo Dragon that arrived at the station last month. The new carbon dioxide scrubber will be installed in the Destiny laboratory module in the US segment of the ISS. Cosmonauts have also continued working on completing the integration and setup of the new Nauka laboratory module.