Tag Archives: spacewalk

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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IDA-2 is ready for installation!

The first of two International Docking Adapters (designated IDA-2 since IDA-1 was lost in the one and only Falcon 9 launch mishap to date) has, by now, been extracted from the trunk of the CRS-9 Dragon spacecraft and should be hovering about three feet away from the Pressurized Mating Adapter 2 (PMA-2) on the forward end of the ISS, secure in the grip of the SSRMS.  It will stay there until Friday, when astronauts Jeff Williams and Kate Rubins will exit the Quest airlock and work to get the adapter properly installed.  NASA has released this wonderful informative CGI video outlining the plan for Friday’s spacewalk.

If you want to watch it live, tune in to NASA TV (via cable, satellite, YouTube, the NASA TV website, or wherever else you can find a feed) on Friday.  Live coverage starts at 6:30 AM EDT (10:30 UTC), and the actual spacewalk is scheduled to begin at 8:05 AM EDT.

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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:

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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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Adam Savage’s Comic-Con Disguise Revealed! And it’s his awesomest yet!

He’s done some amazing prop copies, but this year he outdid himself.  First off, he wanted to do a really authentic replica of the suits worn on the Moon in “2001: A Space Odyssey”.  Second, he wanted to avoid the overheating problems he had in the suit he wore last year, so he devised a cooling garment that works on basically the same principal as the ones in actual spacesuits.  Last, he knew that everybody would be looking for the awesomest cosplayer there in expectation of finding Adam, so he did something extra: he got somebody to come along as a decoy, since this way there would be *two* of them.  But who to bring as a decoy?  Well, it’s a spacewalking exercise, so who better than an actual spacewalker?  He persuaded Chris Hadfield to come along.  And it’s interesting listening as they suit up, and Hadfield compares the suit to the real deal.  It’s fascinating, awesome, and a great deal of fun!

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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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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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Taking out the trash — with STYLE!

Cygnus has returned to Earth . . . technically.  Yesterday, the spacecraft made a firey reentry, burning up in the atmosphere over the south Pacific.  The ISS crew had a lovely view of the destructive reentry, as it was night over that part of the Earth as they went overhead.  SpaceflightNow has a lovely image gallery.  😉

Today, the Russians conducted a spacewalk outside the ISS, installing a European experiment package, performing maintenance activities on the Russian segment, collecting samples off of Zvezda’s exterior to evaluate deposition of combustion products from its propulsion system over the past fourteen years in orbit, and also hand-launching a tiny nanosatellite for Peru.  Here, cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev has just released the Chasqui 1 imaging nanosatellite, which is floating away at top right.

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