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Things are getting busy aboard the International Space Station as the first of the year-end spacewalks launched Tuesday morning.
First-time spacewalkers and NASA astronauts Josh Casada and Frank Rubio began their journey outside the space station at 9:14 a.m. ET, with a live broadcast. NASA website. The event is expected to last around seven hours.
Casada wears a red-striped spacesuit as Extravehicular Crew Member 1, while Rubio wears an unmarked costume as Extravehicular Crew Member 2.
Astronauts will assemble a mounting bracket on the starboard side of the space station’s truss. Hardware to be installed during the spacewalk was delivered to the space station on November 9 aboard Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft, which safely delivered its cargo. Only one of its two solar arrays is deployed after launch.
This hardware will allow the installation of more rollout solar arrays, called iROSAs, to give the space station a power boost. The first two rollout solar arrays were installed outside the station in June 2021. A total of six iROSAs are planned and could further increase the power output of the space station. 30% when everything is done.
when Two more spacewalks on Nov. 28 and Dec. 1 will see the two astronaut crews unmount and install another pair of solar arrays once the mounting hardware is in place. The solar arrays will be delivered on the next SpaceX Dragon commercial resupply mission, currently scheduled for launch on November 21.
Spacewalks are a routine part of space station crews as they maintain and upgrade the aging orbiting laboratory, but Tuesday’s spacewalk was NASA’s first since March. The agency’s space missions ended after the European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer completed his first space flight with water in his helmet.
A thin layer of moisture beyond normal, expected levels was found on Maurer’s helmet after about seven hours of spacewalk. In an event deemed “a close call” by NASA, Marrer quickly removed the helmet, and the water samples, suit hardware and spacesuit were returned to Earth for investigation. NASA officials have determined that the suit did not experience any hardware failure.
“The reason for the presence of water in the helmet may be due to integrated system performance, where multiple variables such as crew exertion and crew cooling systems have led to the formation of larger-than-normal amounts of condensation within the system,” NASA said. Blog post update.
“Based on the findings, the team has updated operational procedures and developed new mitigation hardware to reduce scenarios that result in integrated performance water accumulation, while absorbing any water that appears. These measures will continue to help keep personnel safe from any liquid in the helmet.
NASA officials gave the “go-ahead” to resume spacewalks after completing a review in October.
The probe team has developed techniques to manage temperatures in the suit and added new absorbent pads to the helmet, said Tina Cantella, operations coordination manager for the International Space Station program.
The thin orange pieces are placed in different parts of the helmet, which has already been tested in orbit by astronauts inside the space station.
“We’ve taken different models of this, and the crew on board have been trying to get the water around the helmet at the same rate that it’s going to be in a bad, bad situation. We’ve found these pads to be very effective,” Cantella said.
Tuesday’s spacewalk will allow crews working outside the space station to test the new straps ahead of a more complex solar array installation spacewalk within the next two weeks.
Meanwhile, a Russian spacewalk is scheduled to take place on Thursday. Astronauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin will begin their walk at 9 a.m. ET to work outside the Nauka Multipurpose Laboratory module. The two will prepare a radiator for transfer from the Rosved module to Nauga during their seven-hour spacewalk, which will also be streamed live on NASA’s website.