Astronauts full spacewalk to retrofit home station
(Reuters) – Two spacewalking astronauts ventured outdoor the Worldwide Space Station on Friday for a 6-1/2-hour spacewalk, the first of three to rearrange the orbiting laboratory for future industrial home taxis and to kind out maintenance chores, NASA TV confirmed.
U.S. station commander Shane Kimbrough, 49, and French flight engineer Thomas Pesquet, 39, floated outdoor the station’s airlock as a result of the $100 billion superior soared 250 miles (402 km) above Earth.
Kimbrough, making his fifth spacewalk, first upgraded a laptop relay discipline on the station’s central beam, then labored on a docking system for model new spaceships in enchancment by Boeing and Space Exploration Utilized sciences, or SpaceX.
The U.S. Nationwide Aeronautics and Space Administration is making the retrofits throughout the hope that non-public firms will begin flying astronauts to the station by the highest of 2018. This may break Russia’s monopoly on crew transportation, a service that costs NASA higher than $80 million per particular person.
The first of the home taxis is scheduled for an unmanned debut verify flight later this 12 months.
All through Friday’s spacewalk, Kimbrough disconnected four cables on a docking tunnel to be used by the model new industrial home taxis. On Sunday, flooring administration teams will use the station’s robotic arm to maneuver it onto a particular module.
The astronauts moreover lubricated part of the station’s robotic arm, modified cameras on Japan’s experiment platform and tackled completely different maintenance duties sooner than heading once more contained within the station.
A second spacewalk by Pesquet and NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson is deliberate for Thursday to place in new cables to the relocated docking tunnel.
As quickly as all the work is accomplished, the U.S. side of the station can have two docking ports for passenger spaceships and two for cargo ships. Russia, which collectively operates the station with NASA, has 5 docking ports.
Moreover participating throughout the station program with evaluation modules and instruments are Europe, Japan and Canada.
All through Friday’s spacewalk, Pesquet inspected hoses, attachments and completely different elements of the station’s ammonia cooling system. Flight controllers are looking for the availability of a small leak throughout the system.
Pesquet, making his second spacewalk, did not see any leaking ammonia nonetheless engineers will consider his video for nearer scrutiny, said NASA mission commentator Gary Jordan.
NASA is anticipated to schedule a third spacewalk as quickly as its subsequent cargo ship arrives on the station with further devices to place in. Engineers are troubleshooting a problem with the cargo ship’s launch automotive.
(By Irene Klotz. Modifying by Letitia Stein and Sandra Maler)