International Space Station Crew Gearing Up for Three October Spacewalks


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.

NASA astronauts Randy Bresnik and Mark Vande Hei will go outside the International Space Station (ISS) for the two spacewalk.

Canadarm2 was launched in 2001, so it's starting to experience some wear and tear. "Congratulations, my friend, on becoming the 221st human to exit in your own personal spacecraft into the void of space".

The problem did not impact ISS operations, but the arm's hand, or Latching End Effector (LEE), needs fix.

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The astronauts will be working on a newly replaced robotic arm called "Canadarm2" and will be replacing cameras outside the station's U.S. Destiny laboratory. "It's been manifesting itself partly as increased motor currents in the mechanisms on board, and particularly the latches". Their spacewalk is the first of three planned for October that revolve around getting the Canadian robotic arm in good shape for doing work outside the ISS. The other one is also set for repairs, but that has been postponed for January. The malfunction hasn't impacted any operations, but it needs to be replaced. It also gives the unique capability to "walk" from one location on the station's truss to another, as per NASA. Another fight-ready spare is available for launch as needed. Bresnik last visited the station aboard space shuttle Atlantis during the STS-129 mission. "Here at 16 years, for an item this complex, we're very pleased both LEEs lasted this long". This is Bresnik's third spacewalk and the first for Vande Hei.

The next two spacewalks, on October 10 and October 18, will focus on lubricating the joints in the new LEE using a device called a ballscrew lubrication tool, or BLT.

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.

Similar to the International Space Station, this new space station will be open to to astronauts and cosmonauts globally.