US, German astronauts in spacewalk to maintain ISS
Washington (AFP) Oct 07, 2014 – An American and a German astronaut performed a spacewalk outside the orbiting International Space Station (ISS) on Tuesday to carry out equipment repairs and maintenance, NASA said. NASA’s Reid Wiseman and the European Space Agency’s Alexander Gerst left the space station at 1230 GMT and were expected to remain outside for about six and a half hours.
The two astronauts were moving a failed cooling pump to an external storage platform just outside the Quest airlock module. Gerst was then due to replace a light on a television camera located on the Destiny module.
The next task for the astronauts was to install a Mobile Transporter Relay Assembly, which can shift gear and supplies on rails along the space station’s backbone.
NASA’s Barry Wilmore, who arrived at the ISS on September 25, was operating a Canadian robotic arm to maneuver Gerst during the spacewalk.
A second spacewalk is planned for October 15, when Wiseman and Wilmore will replace a failed voltage regulator. They will also move external camera equipment ahead of a major reconfiguration of station modules next year, NASA said in a statement.
The reconfiguration will allow for the arrival of new docking adapters for commercial crew vehicles.
Boeing and SpaceX last month won NASA contracts to build these spacecraft.
The two spacewalks are the 182nd and 183rd carried out to maintain the ISS.
Two residents of the International Space Station were able stretch their legs on Tuesday as they took a walk outside their cozy confines to fix the station’s orbiting laboratory — the first spacewalk in months.
NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman and German astronaut Alexander Gerst stepped out into the airless vacuum of space at 8:30 this morning. It is expected to take at least 6.5 hours to finish their maintenance tasks.
This is the first spacewalk for Wiseman and Gerst, but it’s unlikely to be the last. With plans to rearrange several of the docking ports on the orbiting space station, the ISS crews will be required to make at least eight more spacewalks in the coming weeks. The station’s robotic arm will handle most of the major reorganization work, but the astronauts will need to manually re-route power to the new docking ports.
NASA is live-streaming the spacewalk and the work of engineers at mission control on their website.
The astronauts were relegated to their station confines for the last several months — unable to venture outside to make repairs or perform any routine maintenance — because of a suspected problem with the battery that powers the astronauts’ spacesuits. New batteries were recently delivered to the station by the unmanned SpaceX Dragon cargo ship.