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11th Astronaut To Perform A Spacewalk Is Currently Ready; Complex Mission Is Assigned

First Posted: Dec 21, 2016 03:10 AM EST
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Astronaut Thomas Pesquet is getting ready for his spacewalk. He will then be the 11th European to achieve the walk on space.

European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Thomas Pesquet will be performing his spacewalk next month. He will be venturing outside the International Space Station (ISS).

Thomas Pesquet's walk will last up to seven hours and was scheduled on Jan. 13, 2017. The purpose of this walk is to ensure the power supply of the ISS from the solar panels of 2,500 sq m.

Shane Kimbrough, the Station commander, will be leading the spacewalk. Thus, he will be accompanied by Thomas Pesquet. Meanwhile, ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano will direct the duo; he will be the lead communication at the NASA's mission control in Houston.

In line with this, Phys.org reported that Luca Parmitano himself is an experienced spacewalker. He underwent two sorties during his six-month period of mission in 2013. He will be guiding Shane Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet in space for them to achieve their goal. Thus, he will be giving them a hand through radio support.

The spacewalks are needed for them to upgrade and replace the older technology batteries with the newer lithium-ion designs. The batteries are needed to store power for supplying the ISS as it flies through the Earth's shadow. Thus, two spacewalks for the month of January are needed.

Before the spacewalk, the adapter plates that arrived through Japans' HTV cargo ferry last week will be relocated to an external platform with the help of the robotic arm of the station. One of the objectives for Shane Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet is to head outside and collect the adapters. They will then have to install them and reattach the batteries.

The preparations for these complex operations are doing well. Thomas Pesquet posted on his Facebook page that, "We have started well in advance to prepare for the spacewalks of January. It is a lot of work to service the suits and get them ready, get familiar with the choreography and prepare the tools and equipment. Not even mentioning the thousands of hours of work for all the personnel on the ground," according to Space Daily.

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