Two astronauts are spacewalking today to fix the space station's robotic arm

06 October, 2017, 00:44 | Author: Chad Mckenzie
  • Bob Zimmerman

Floating in the Quest airlock, station commander Randy Bresnik and flight engineer Mark Vande Hei switched their spacesuits to battery power at 8:05 a.m. EDT (GMT-4) to officially kick off U.S. EVA-44, the first of three excursions planned over the next two weeks to service the Canadarm 2 space crane and carry out a variety of maintenance work.

The arm is integral to space station operations and can extend 60 feet off ISS, grabbing visiting cargo vehicles and payloads. Nowadays, it is used for routine inspections outside the ISS and to latch and dock incoming cargo spacecraft.

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NASA says Canadarm2 helped build the station and keep it running. Bresnik launched to the space station on July 28 and is expected to return to Earth in December.

"The second and third spacewalks will be devoted to lubricating the newly installed end effector and replacing cameras on the left side of the station's truss and the right side of the station's US Destiny laboratory", Nasa said.

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NASA TV coverage of the spacewalks will begin at 6:30 am EDT. It's two Latching End Effectors, or LEEs, have been worsening. Initially, NASA planned to fix the LEE which seemed most degraded, but the other one stopped working, which moved it to the top of the priority list. Components of the LEEs were created to last 10 to 15 years, and it's been 16 years since they were installed.

The duo have been tasked to replace the arm. Another five days later, October 15th, Bresnik will be joined by NASA astronaut Joe Acaba for a third spacewalk on to do more lubrication and another camera replacement. Joe Acaba arrived at the space station September 12 for his third mission to space. The second spacewalk is scheduled for October 10, and the third for October 18.

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Five days from now, on October 10th, Bresnik and Vande Hei will do another spacewalk to lubricate the new LEE and then replace a camera on the outside of the station. As extravehicular crewmember 1 (EV 1), Bresnik gets to wear the suit with red stripes on it, while Vande Hei (EV 2) will wear a plain white suit.

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