Successful Spacewalk! NASA Astronauts Carry Out Urgent Repairs At Space Station
Two crew members have successfully completed urgent repairs at the International Space Station (ISS) during a spacewalk yesterday. Astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer replaced equipment that had stopped functioning three days ago. They restored the backup for an important data-relay system.
According to Time, it took Whitson longer than expected to work on the spare unit. However, the job was done successfully once spacewalking partner Fischer cleared away metal flecks by blasting the area with nitrogen gas. Mission Control noted that the ISS was already back in a good position after the excellent work carried out by the two astronauts.
The data-relay unit that failed was installed in March. The breakdown took place on Saturday and a second unit worked on it. However, the U.S. space agency still arranged a spacewalk as a backup in case the second unit failed. Failure would have affected the station's cooling and solar energy production system.
Incidentally, though Whitson did not encounter a problem while removing the broken unit, it still took two attempts to install the replacement. The veteran detected metal shavings in the holes meant for the bolts in the first attempt. This is where Fischer played his part and used a nitrogen glass blaster to blow away the metal shavings from the three bolt holes.
The data-relay boxes are called multiplexer-demultiplexers (MDMs). They weigh 50 pounds (22.7 kg) and have a measurement of 14 inches by 8 inches by 13 inches.
This was the second spacewalk for Fischer and he posted a tweet that showed his excitement. “What’s more awesome than being on @Space_Station? Getting a call from mission control 4 another spacewalk! Dancing w/ the cosmos,” he tweeted.
Fischer’s spacewalk partner Whiston is a record-breaking U.S. astronaut with the most cumulative time in space. In addition, the space veteran has conducted the maximum number of spacewalks (10, including the walk for this mission) by a woman.