Expedition 53 Commander Randy Bresnik and Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei of NASA will head outside the International Space Station at approximately 8 a.m. EDT Thursday to begin a 6.5-hour spacewalk. Live coverage will be available on NASA Television and the agency’s website beginning at 6:30 a.m.
This is the first of three spacewalks planned for October. Bresnik will lead all three, with Vande Hei joining him again Oct. 10 and Flight Engineer Joe Acaba joining him Oct. 18.
During Thursday’s spacewalk, Bresnik and Vande Hei will replace one of two Latching End Effectors (LEE) on the station’s robotic arm, Canadarm2. One of the Canadarm2 grappling mechanisms recently experienced a stall of its motorized latches, but the problem has had no effect on planned station operations. A spare LEE is stored outside on the station’s truss. Canadarm2 has two identical Latching End Effectors used to grapple visiting cargo vehicles and payloads, provide data and telemetry to the rest of the Canadian-built Mobile Base System and the unique capability to “walk” from one location on the station’s truss to another.
This will be the 203rd spacewalk in support of space station assembly and maintenance.
Follow @space_station on Twitter for updates on the station and crew activities. For more information about the International Space Station, visit www.nasa.gov/station.
In a remarkable demonstration of robotic prowess, ground controllers used the Canadian-built “Dextre” Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator over the weekend to install three new lithium-ion batteries in the International Space Station’s 3A power channel Integrated Electronics Assembly (IEA) pallet on the starboard 4 truss. Dextre also removed four old nickel-hydrogen batteries from the IEA, three of which were stowed on the Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle’s external pallet to wrap up the first act of a complex procedure to upgrade the station’s power system. A fourth old battery was temporarily stowed on a platform on Dextre.
This clears the way for the first of two spacewalks Friday in which Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough and Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson of NASA will install three adapter plates in slots on the IEA to which three of the old nickel-hydrogen batteries will be mounted to remain on the ISS but will be dormant. In all, nine nickel-hydrogen batteries will be stowed on the external pallet for disposal when the HTV is deorbited to burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere late this month.
Three additional new lithium-ion batteries flown to the ISS aboard the HTV will be robotically installed in the starboard truss’ 1A power channel Integrated Electronics Assembly between Friday’s spacewalk and a second spacewalk scheduled Jan. 13 for Kimbrough and Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency. Five additional nickel-hydrogen batteries will be removed robotically from the IEA prior to the second spacewalk.
A briefing to preview the two spacewalks and to review all of the robotics work will be broadcast on NASA Television on Wednesday, Jan. 4 at 2 p.m. Eastern time.
Expedition 47 robotic arm operator Tim Kopra of NASA commanded the International Space Station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to release the Cygnus spacecraft at 9:30 a.m. EDT while the space station was flying above Paraguay. Earlier, ground controllers detached Cygnus from the station and maneuvered it into place for its departure.
After Cygnus is a safe distance away, ground controllers at Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio will initiate the sequence for Saffire-1, and controllers at Orbital ATK in Dulles, Virginia, will activate the experiment. Cygnus will continue to orbit Earth for up to eight days as it transmits hi-resolution imagery and data from the Saffire experiment. Following complete data transmission, the Cygnus spacecraft will complete its destructive entry into the Earth’s atmosphere on June 22. NASA TV will not provide a live broadcast of the Saffire experiment or the Cygnus deorbit burn and re-entry, but imagery from Saffire will be posted on NASA.gov as it becomes available.
The Cygnus resupply craft launched March 22 on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, for the company’s fifth NASA-contracted commercial resupply mission.
Following a slight delay, Expedition 45 Flight Engineer Kimiya Yui of JAXA, backed up by NASA Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren, commanded the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to release JAXA’s H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV)-5 from the International Space Station at 12:53 p.m. EDT while the spacecraft was flying 256 miles above the Southern Pacific, after it unberthed from the space station at 7:12 a.m. EDT.
The HTV-5 will now move away from the orbiting laboratory to a safe location where it will fire its engines to begin a controlled deorbit to reenter Earth’s atmosphere. The intense heat of reentry will cause the vehicle to burn up over the Pacific Ocean.
HTV-5 carried a variety of experiments and supplies to the space station, including the NanoRacks External Payload Platform, which can house multiple investigations in the open-space environment of the station, and the CALorimetric Electron Telescope investigation, an astrophysics mission that measures high energy particles to search for dark matter and the origin of cosmic rays.
HTV-5 also delivered materials to support the Twins Study, a compilation of 10 investigations designed to gain broader insights into the subtle effects of and changes that occur in the environment of space as compared to that of Earth by studying two individuals who have the same genetics, but are in different environments. NASA astronaut Scott Kelly is participating from the space station while his identical twin Mark Kelly, a retired astronaut, is participating on Earth. The study includes a suite of integrated human space physiology and cellular-level experiments.
The release of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) H-II Transport Vehicle-5 (HTV-5) has been delayed. Teams are troubleshooting, and the next opportunity will be at the next day pass at approximately 12:42 p.m. EDT. HTV-5 is still captured, and the crew is in no danger.
The Leonardo Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) was successfully relocated from the Unity module to the Tranquility module Wednesday morning. Engineers from Canada and Houston jointly maneuvered the PMM with the Canadarm2 robotic arm. Astronauts Terry Virts and Scott Kelly monitored the installation then successfully bolted the PMM in place on Tranquility. The duo are now getting the PMM ready for its hatch opening Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Expedition 43 crew also conducted periodic fitness evaluations and worked on a fluid physics experiment observing surface tension where liquid and gas meet. In the Russian segment, the cosmonauts studied the effects of earthquakes on the Earth’s ionosphere and explored how sound waves can help pinpoint micrometeoroid impacts.
The Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) was successfully relocated from the Unity module to the Tranquility module at 9:08 a.m. EDT Wednesday.
The PMM was robotically relocated from the Earth-facing port of the Unity module on the International Space Station to the forward port of the Tranquility module in the next step to reconfigure the complex for the future arrival of U.S. commercial crew vehicles. Robotic flight controllers at Mission Control, Houston, working in tandem with the Mobile Servicing System (MSS) Operations Center at the Canadian Space Agency’s headquarters in St. Hubert, Quebec, Canada, used the Canadarm2 robotic arm to maneuver the 11-ton module a short distance to its new location. Expedition 43 Commander Terry Virts and Flight Engineer Scott Kelly of NASA supervised the commanding of the bolting of the PMM to Tranquility. The PMM’s hatch will be reopened tomorrow.
The operation opened the Earth-facing port of Unity as another berthing location for U.S. commercial cargo vehicles. Future U.S. commercial crew vehicles will arrive at the space-facing and forward ports of the Harmony module, which will continue its transformation later this year when a pair of International Docking Adapters (IDAs) will be delivered on the seventh and ninth NASA-contracted SpaceX cargo resupply missions. The IDAs will be attached to Pressurized Mating Adapters 2 and 3, enabling the station to host up to two U.S. commercial cargo and two U.S. commercial crew vehicles at any given time.
The International Space Station’s Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) was detached from a berthing mechanism on the Earth-facing port of the Unity module at 5:50 a.m. EDT by robotics flight controllers at Mission Control, Houston, working in tandem with Canadian Space Agency (CSA) engineers at the robotics support center located at CSA Headquarters in St. Hubert, Quebec, Canada. Used as a supply depot for the orbital laboratory, the 11-ton PMM is being maneuvered to an installation position at the forward port of the Tranquility module through the use of the station’s robotic arm, Canadarm2. NASA Television will provide coverage of the final steps of the installation and provide a replay of pertinent video from the start of the operation beginning at 8 a.m. EDT.
Once it is in the proper position, Expedition 43 Commander Terry Virts and Flight Engineer Scott Kelly of NASA will oversee the module’s final attachment to Tranquility. Virts and Kelly will reopen the hatch to the PMM at its new location tomorrow.
This move will clear the Unity port for its use as a second berthing location for U.S. commercial cargo spacecraft; the Earth-facing port on Harmony is currently used as the home port for U.S. cargo craft. The relocation of the PMM is the next step in the reconfiguration of the station that will allow U.S. commercial crew vehicles to dock to new docking ports on the forward and space-facing side of the Harmony module. That will provide a total of four ports for U.S. vehicles arriving at the orbital outpost.