ISS: American spacewalkers Kassada and Rubio stepped outside the space station on Tuesday

ISS: American spacewalkers Kassada and Rubio stepped outside the space station on Tuesday

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The first in a series of year-end spacewalks began Tuesday morning outside the International Space Station.

First-time spacewalkers and NASA astronauts Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio began their excursion outside the space station at 9:14 AM ET and ended at 4:25 PM ET, lasting 7 hours and 11 minutes.

Cassada wore a red-striped space suit as a crew member outside Vehicle 1, while Rubio was in an unmarked suit as a crew member outside Vehicle 2.

Astronauts assembled the mounting bracket on the right side of the space station’s girder against a backdrop of spectacular views of Earth.

The hardware was delivered to the space station on November 9 aboard Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus, which safely delivered its payload despite only one of the two solar arrays being activated after launch.

This hardware will allow the installation of multiple solar arrays, called iROSA, to give the space station a power boost. The first two powered solar arrays were installed outside the station in June 2021. A total of six iROSAs are planned and are likely to increase the space station’s power output by more than 30% when all are operational.

During two more spacewalks on Nov. 28 and Dec. 1, the two-astronaut crew will unroll and install another pair of solar arrays once the mounting hardware is in place. The solar arrays will be delivered for the next SpaceX Dragon commercial resupply mission, currently scheduled for a November 21 launch.

Spacewalks are part of the space station crew’s routine as they maintain and upgrade the aging orbiting laboratory, but Tuesday’s spacewalk was NASA’s first since March. The agency’s spacewalks were halted after the European Space Agency astronauts Matthias Maurer completed his first spacewalk with water in his helmet.

A thin layer of moisture that exceeded the normal, expected amount was discovered in Maurer’s helmet after he returned to the airlock after the nearly seven-hour spacewalk. Maurer quickly jettisoned the helmet, in what NASA deemed a “close call,” and water samples, suit hardware and the spacesuit itself were returned to Earth for investigation. NASA officials determined that the suit had not experienced any hardware failures.

“The cause of the water in the helmet was likely due to the performance of the integrated system where several variables such as crew effort and cooling settings caused a relatively higher than normal amount of condensation to form within the system,” NASA said in a statement. blog post update.

“Based on the findings, the team updated operating procedures and developed new mitigation hardware to minimize scenarios where integrated performance results in water accumulation while absorbing water that does occur. These measures will help contain any liquid in the helmet to continue to protect the crew.”

Officials at NASA have made a “decision” to resume spacewalks after the review ends in October.

The research team developed techniques to manage temperatures in the suit and added new absorbent strips to the helmet, said Dina Contella, operations integration manager for the International Space Station Program.

Thin pieces of orange are placed in different parts of the helmet, which astronauts inside the space station have already tested in orbit.

“We took a few different models of this and the crew on the ship was spraying water around, basically trying to inject water into the helmet at the same rate that it would be in the worst, worst case scenario. And we found that these pads were very, very effective,” Contella said.

Tuesday’s spacewalk allowed the crew to test the new pads while working outside the space station before heading into space in the next few weeks for more complex solar array installations.

Meanwhile, Russia’s spacewalk is scheduled to take place on Thursday. Cosmonauts Sergei Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin will begin their walk at 9 a.m. ET to work on the exterior of the Science Multipurpose Laboratory Module. The duo will prepare the radiator for transfer from the Enlightenment module to Science during the seven-hour spacewalk, which will also be streamed live on NASA’s website.

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