A Busy Few Days for Saint-Jacques After Arriving on Station

The Expedition 57 and 58 crews talk with family and officials shortly arriving aboard the International Space Station. Credit: NASA/ROSCOSMOS.

BAIKONUR, KAZAKHSTAN – With David Saint-Jacques now in house at the International Space Station, there will be little time to get acclimated before the next cargo ship arrives — if it comes on time.

SpaceX is expected to lift off from Florida today with a load of Canadian science on board. That means that the first duties of Saint-Jacques and his crew will be to move cargo off of that ship into the space station, says ISS utilization manager Ken Podwalski.

“Once it docks, they get straight to work,” he told SpaceQ here Dec. 3 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, just moments after Expedition 58 successfully launched to the ISS. “There will be a series of experiments to get unloaded off of that, which is going to be their first priority.”

There are other things to think about as well, for example, and some of the tasks could depend on whether the SpaceX launch is delayed once again. There are batteries to deal with from a Japanese cargo flight that docked last month, and the possibility of spacewalks before the Expedition 57 crew departs for Earth on Dec. 20.

Crew hatch opening and family on-orbit call.

As for the Canadian experiments, Podwalksi said that the most likely thing is it will be a few days until Saint-Jacques starts work on that. However, in a previous interview here in Baikonur, he said that NASA would try to prioritize the Canadian science even with the crew working on a reduced science schedule, since the abort last month changed the station rotation schedule.

Meanwhile, astronaut Josh Kutryk (speaking immediately after the launch) said it was an educational experience. What most impressed upon him, he said, was the responsibilities to manage on top of the technical work.

“You see some of the subtleties of that (the process), so you see the emotional side of it, you see the family side of it. So it’s a different perspective.”

He added that he watched the launch with great interest, given that a friend and colleague was on board inside the spacecraft, and he was looking forward to when Saint-Jacques arrived at the space station.

About Elizabeth Howell

Elizabeth Howell
Canadian space and science reporter, researcher and consultant. I also am pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of North Dakota.