The first U.S. spacewalk in months took place today, with two astronauts stepping outside the International Space Station
Reid Wiseman of NASA and European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst performed maintenance to upgrade the International Space Station orbiting laboratory. The entirety of the 6.5 hour spacewalk was available to watch live on Space.com, via NASA TV.
International Space Station – Objectives
Gerst and Wiseman moved a broken cooling system pump to a new permanent storage spot. It had previously been replaced during a couple of urgent spacewalks last year. NASA also stated that they had installed “a new relay system that will provide backup power options to the mobile transporter, which moves the large robotic arm around the outside of the space station.”
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The spacewalk was a first for both Gerst and Wiseman. Another spacewalk is scheduled for October 15, with Wiseman venturing out once again, this time accompanied by NASA‘s Barry Wilmore. It will be Wilmore’s first ever spacewalk. The space agency has stated that their mission is to replace some electronics which ceased to function back in May.
Transforming the International Space Station
Kenny Todd, space station integration operations manager, outlined plans for the transformation of the ISS during a news conference last week. He stated that an increasing number of spacewalks are being planned to overhaul the space station.
He said that crews would be undertaking operations “in preparation for being able to support future [commercial] crewed vehicles coming to station. We’re trying to get out in front of that … We’ll be prepping for moving modules, we’ll be installing a new docking adapter system. All of that will be happening throughout the next several months onboard the station.”
Spacewalks had been on hold while scientists evaluated the spacesuits used by astronauts. Officials found a potential fault with a fuse in the batteries used in the suits. Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano almost drowned after his helmet filled with water during a July 2013 spacewalk. NASA has claimed that the postponement of all but non-essential spacewalks did not damage the operation of the ISS.