Tag Archives: EVA

EVA-3 of Expedition 50 is complete

Today, Shane Kimbrough (USA) and Thomas Pesquet (France) ventured outside the ISS to complete the 40th spacewalk from the US segment of the International Space Station, and the 198th overall.  (Note: most of the ISS spacewalks were conducted not from Station at all but from Shuttle, which is why the total spacewalk number appears so inflated by comparison.)  Today’s activities revolved mostly around prepping PMA-3 for its upcoming move to the Harmony node, where it will become available for future commercial crew operations.  This mostly consisted of unplugging things.  They also installed a new multiplexer/demultiplexer (MDM), did some work on the external cameras, lubricated the SSRMS, and completed some inspection work.  This video covers the entire spacewalk, not just the highlights, so maybe flip around through it to find interesting bits.  😉  This includes egress; you have to go up to about 45 minutes before they’re even emerging from the airlock.  (Spacewalks are complex; it’s not like going for a casual stroll.)




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Ground Control to Major Tim . . . Britain’s first spacewalker!

Slightly spooky coming so soon after David Bowie’s death, and concerning after the near-death experience of Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano, American astronaut Tim Kopra had a bit of a problem on his spacewalk.

But let’s back up for a moment.  Today, the United Kingdom entered the elite club of nations who have had a spacewalker, as astronaut Tim Peake donned an Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) and exited the Quest airlock along with American Tim Kopra.  Kopra was making his third EVA, while Peake was making his first, with the Union Jack on his shoulder:


As this was also the first time in history that both spacewalkers shared a first name, mission controllers referred to them by their full names.  The primary objective was to replace a faulty power unit.  The work had to be conducted during the 31 minutes of orbital night, so that the circuits in the solar arrays would not be energized.  The two men accomplished the task with precision, replacing the bum unit with a spare they’d nicknamed “Dusty” in honor of its 17-year wait aboard the station before being called into service, but ran into a problem.

After the two men had stowed the faulty unit and were preparing to move on to their second task, Tim Kopra noticed water in his helmet, and realized that the absorbant pad in his helmet (added to all helmets as a safety measure after Parmitano’s close call) was damp.  Of extra concern: the suit he was wearing was the exact one that had almost killed Parmitano.  The suit had been repaired, and used on spacewalks since then without incident, but today was not so good a day.  Kopra determined that the water was cold, and had formed a bubble about four inches long — fortunately, nowhere near the amount that had been in with Parmitano, and NASA flight controllers made the call to terminate.  (“Terminate” means “put away your tools, and go back inside in an orderly fashion”.  If it had been a more dire emergency, as it was with Parmitano, they would have ordered an “abort”, and had them return as quickly as possible.)

After getting the men back inside, the suits were examined.  Peake’s suit was only slightly damp around the wrists, likely from sweat, while Kopra’s was very damp.

The fact that the suit is still malfunctioning is troubling.  But the good news is that the safety measures added after the near-drowning a few years ago have definitely paid off.  Kopra was able to detect the leak long before it was a serious threat, and had the emergency lasted longer, the suits are now equipped with a snorkel, allowing the astronauts to breath air in the suit’s torso even if the helmet is filling with water.  And of course the primary objective of the spacewalk was completed, returning the station’s power supply to normal levels.  But surely now NASA will be looking much harder at the suit, and perhaps the rest of the suit inventory as well.

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50 years of spacewalks

NASA released this lovely video to commemorate fifty years of EVA, even including interviews with Alexei Leonov, the world’s first spacewalker.


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Setting Up For Commercial Crew!

Two big events just started toward the Commercial Crew effort.  First, aboard the ISS, crewmembers completed the first of three spacewalks in preparation for the upcoming International Docking Adapters that will be attached to the two Pressurized Mating Adapters attached to the Harmony node of the ISS to allow docking by Dragon and CST-100.  Like the PMAs, both adapters are furnished by Boeing, and they will be available at the forward and zenith ports, allowing for up to two commercial crew vehicles at a time while not obstructing the ports required for the commercial cargo vehicles.

Yesterday’s work was mostly rewiring, and took six hours and 41 minutes.  This was the 29th US spacewalk from the ISS.  Here’s a planning animation with detailed explanation followed by a time-lapse of the whole thing:

And Friday, back on Earth, ground was broken for the new crew access structure at LC-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Station.  LC-41 serves the Atlas V rocket, and this will support the CST-100 spacecraft.

SpaceX is also making preparations, although as a private company they are playing their cards a little more closely to their chests.  We know, however, that they are getting very close to their flyback booster concept, and have made arrangements for a set of landing pads at Cape Canaveral.

Commercial Crew will not likely fly before 2017, but that’s getting closer every day.  😉


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More Doctor Who Space Suits!

Last week, I hit on some of Doctor Who’s suits — the good, the bad, the ugly, and the just plain how the heck is that supposed to work?  But a sci-fi show with a 50 year history has more to offer than that.  😉  So here goes with another batch!

Titan crew suits, “The Invisible Enemy”


These suits again are clearly not pressurized, nor sufficiently skin-tight to offer mechanical pressure assistance; in fact, they appear to be basic flight suits with some cool gloves and helmets.  But maybe that’s okay; they’re on Titan, after all, which does have a substantial atmosphere.  All they really need is something to protect them from the extreme cold (natural gas falls as rain there) and an oxygen supply.

EVA Suits for the Wheel, “The Wheel in Space”


This is a surprisingly good-looking suit, used by the crew of the Wheel for maintenance spacewalks.  It’s got a very sturdy helmet that pivots, oxygen fed directly into it, sealed joints that connect the gloves up to the body of the suit . . . in sort, it looks like a real pressure suit.  And that’s because it actually is.  These are Windak Full Pressure Suits, developed for the RAF by Baxter, Woodhouse and Taylor Ltd to support development of high-altitude fighters and bombers, which would fly above 50,000 feet.  At some point, the RAF moved away from it, and surplus suits found their way into costume departments.  For instance, you may recognize it on the bounty hunter Boskk in “The Empire Strikes Back”:



Of course, that’s not the only connection that scene has to “Doctor Who”.  The rather more famous bounty hunter on the left, Boba Fett, was played by Jeremy Bulloch, who had previously appeared as Hal the Archer in Sarah Jane Smith’s debut serial, “The Time Warrior”.  (“Empire Strikes Back” is actually riddled with Who performers and crew, including but not limited to Julian Glover and Michael Sheard, both of whom played multiple roles on “Who” through the years.)

Earth Empire suits, “Frontier In Space”

The suits were first intended for an escape attempt from the lunar penal colony, except the Doctor soon discovered that it was a trap — someone had emptied the oxygen cylinders (which here look like SCUBA tanks, rather than the rebreather style apparatus needed for a spacewalk, where maintaining pressure is important):


But the Doctor was able to use a suit later on to spacewalk into the flight deck of the Master’s ship.  Here’s another view of the suit, with helmet in place:


This design obviously uses the “really huge, fluffy wrist and neck pieces” to conceal the lack of a real seal at the interfaces.  And once again, it’s pretty obviously unpressurized.  The holes in the chin of the suit probably wouldn’t help either, though I’m sure they helped keep actor Jon Pertwee more comfortable.  😉

Tesh Suit, “The Face of Evil”


I decided to call this one a “Tesh Suit” because the only intact one we see is worn by one of the Tesh.  We don’t get a terribly good look, but it’s a fairly typical cheap sci-fi spacesuit.  The coiled tubing going to the head resembling a warrior’s mohawk is an interesting touch, though, especially given how the Sevateem were using their copy of the suit: the revered the suit as the image of their god Xoanon, and bits of it were used as sacred relics.

neeva neeva2

I particularly like how Neeva wears the glove as a headpiece.  The suit itself as worn by one of the Tesh isn’t all that special, but the dismantled and distressed bits used by the Sevateem are brilliantly done.  It definitely gives the look of a spacesuit that is long past its useful state but which was at one time a rather sophisticated bit of attire.  The articulations in the glove would be very handy for a person spacewalking; a pressurized glove is very hard to work in, and real astronauts have said that an eight-hour spacewalk is a bit like squeezing a tennis ball for eight hours straight.

Space Pirate Suits, “The Space Pirate”


Two space pirates are laying charges in advance of boarding the crippled station.  The suits are fairly good, with a very believeable helmet and boots and gloves that clearly connect up in some way, but I what I find most remarkable is how good the spacewalk looks in the still image.  This is one of the great missing serials, so I’ve never seen this episode.  Maybe they look less convincing then, but looking at them here I’m really put in mind of the ISS EVAs.  (And hey, there was one just today, to fix up a power relay and take care of some other stuff.)

It’s getting late once again, so I’m going to leave it there, but hopefully this has given you a nice taste of the spacesuits — both high and low fidelity — that have appeared on “Doctor Who”.  😉


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Successful EVA at the ISS!

NASA astronaut Reid Weisman and ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst donned the EMU (Extravehicular Mobility Unit) suits and ventured outside the station today to move some equipment around into proper long-term storage locations, repair part of the electrical system, and fix some cameras.  The spacewalk was completely successful, which makes a welcome change from the last few EVAs, which were much more interesting than one would like.  Ahead, NASA has a heavy schedule of additional EVAs planned to reconfigure the US segment in advance of the arrival of the CCtCap spacecraft, which will dock to the Pressurized Mating Adapter 2 that was used so heavily by Shuttle, but with a new more versatile docking adapter that will be sent up in a couple of Dragons’ unpressurized trunks next year.  Things are getting exciting in low Earth orbit again!


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Spacewalk update: new Russian EVA record set!

After the successful two-EVA repair of the ammonia coolant loop on the US segment, the Russians have mounted the third EVA in a week, to carry out scheduled maintenance activities on the Russian segment, including the installation of commercial imagery cameras for the Canadian company UrtheCast.  Unfortunately, that portion of the spacewalk was unsuccessful, and will be attempted again at a later time.  Once completed, the cameras will provide 24/7 streaming HD video of the Earth.  When the spacewalk concluded, Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy had spent eight hours and seven minutes on EVA, beating the old Russian record by 37 minutes.  (The overall spacewalk duration record is held by NASA astronauts Susan Helms and James Voss, at 8 hours 56 minutes, set in 2001.)

NASASpaceFlight: Russian duo break EVA record – main task suffers issue


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