Astronauts aboard the International Space Station are performing a spacewalk Thursday to work on parts 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 major objective of this first spacewalk is to swap out the degraded Latching End Effector on the Canadarm2 with an identical unit that's now located on the mobile transporter" outside the space station, Judd Frieling, NASA's spacewalk flight director, said at a news conference Monday (Oct. 2). Joe Acaba arrived at the space station September 12 for his third mission to space. One LEE is connected to the ISS by attaching the arm to the station; the other is extended into space and grabs the objects. Vande Hei, EV-2, is wearing an unmarked suit and is using helmetcam 20. 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 Latching End Effectors, or LEEs, have been steadily deteriorating.
The arm can also move like an inchworm across the space station by grabbing onto special fixtures. The spacewalk is the first of three planned over the next two weeks.More news: Gran Turismo Sport launches free limited time demo
"Since these components are well beyond their design life, this really is expected wear and tear on the arm", Braithwaite said. But then in August, the latches on the other LEE stalled during one of the arm's robotic maneuvers, so NASA decided that one was a higher priority to replace first.
Vande Hei and Bresnik plan to step out on another spacewalk Oct 10, with the third set for Oct 18.
The second and third spacewalks will concentrate on the lubrication of the LEE and the installation of a pair of external cameras. Nespoli will position the LEE between the two spacewalkers as they dangle from foot restraints on the space station's truss.
Similar to the International Space Station, this new space station will be open to to astronauts and cosmonauts globally.