Wednesday, 18 October, 2017

U.S. spacewalkers fix ageing ISS robotic arm

Michigan Students to Speak with NASA Astronauts on Space Station NASA astronauts to venture outside ISS for October's first spacewalk today
Lillian Steele | 06 October, 2017, 00:47

The two NASA astronauts Randy Bresnik and Mark Vande Hei's spacewalk is the first of the three planned for October.

Bresnik and Vande Hei will venture back outside October 10 while Joe Acaba will join the station commander for the October 18 excursion.

Bresnik and Acaba will participate in three spacewalks this month to service the space station's robotic arm and install new external cameras.

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.

This bundle of latches - more than three feet (a meter) long - is used to grab visiting spacecraft, and provides power and data.

The trio of spacewalks will be Bresnik's third, fourth and fifth, while Vande Hei will experience his first two spacewalks.

The robotic arm has been a key piece of equipment at the orbiting outpost for more than 16 years, but began malfunctioning in August. Vande Hei, EV-2, is wearing an unmarked suit and is using helmetcam 20. Two latching mechanisms at each end of the arm, called Latching End Effectors (LEE) have been deteriorating. The arm is like an dexterous snake-like instrument that extends up to almost 60 feet in the space and grabs large object.

The astronauts will fix the latching mechanism on the end of the Canadian robotic arm which is not functioning properly.

Linking students directly to astronauts aboard the space station provides unique, authentic experiences created to enhance student learning, performance and interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Vande Hei and Bresnik plan to step out on another spacewalk Oct 10, with the third set for Oct 18.

All the three spacewalks of October are slated to begin at 8:05 am EDT (8:05 pm SST), but it is possible to start earlier if the astronauts are moving ahead of schedule. It also gives the unique capability to "walk" from one location on the station's truss to another, as per NASA.

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

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