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NASA astronauts to venture outside ISS for October's first spacewalk today

06 October, 2017, 00:46 | Author: Kristen Ingram
  • Bob Zimmerman

NASA astronauts Randy Bresnik and Mark Vande Hei will go outside for the first two spacewalks.

Bresnik and Vande Hei will do the second spacewalk on October 10th to ease the new LEE on Canadarm2, and then replace a camera onto the outside of the station.

The first spacewalk will focus on repairing the orbiting lab's main robotic appendage, the Canadian robotic arm because its latching end effectors are not working properly.

The Canadarm was retired in 2011 when NASA ended the space shuttle program, though the bigger Canadarm 2 remains in space as part of the International Space Station.

"It's more gorgeous and heavenly than I saw when I was out here eight years ago", Bresnik, a spacewalk veteran, marveled as he floated out of the airlock 250 miles above Africa. One LEE typically stays attached to the ISS, anchoring the arm to the station; the other is extended out into space to grab objects. Vande Hei, EV-2, is wearing an unmarked suit and is using helmetcam 20.

This will be the first in the series of three spacewalks scheduled for the month of October, with Bresnik taking the lead in all three. The LEE works like a hand at the end of the robotic arm and grapples incoming cargo spacecraft like SpaceX's Dragon and Orbital ATK's Cygnus.

The Canadarm 2 measures 57.7 feet long, weighs almost 4,000 pounds, has seven joints and, in the weightless environment of low-Earth orbit, can move large spacecraft and modules from one point to another.

The two identical LEE mechanisms allow the arm to move inchworm fashion from one mounting point to another on the station's exterior.

The two latching mechanisms, one on each end of the arm, have been used almost 400 times.

Canadarm2 was launched in 2001, so it's starting to experience some wear and tear.

Two more walks are scheduled, one on October 10 and the other this month on October 18.

This will be Randy Bresnik's third spacewalk and will mark Van Hei's debut. Nespoli will position the LEE between the two spacewalkers as they dangle from foot restraints on the space station's truss.

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