Veteran Astronauts Conclude Spacewalk for Thermal Maintenance

Astronaut Ricky Arnold
The Earth passes 250 miles below spacewalker Ricky Arnold today while he is attached to the tip of the Canadarm2 robotic arm in the middle of swapping television camera gear.

Expedition 55 Flight Engineers Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold of NASA completed the fifth spacewalk of this year at 2:10 p.m. EDT, lasting 6 hours, 31 minutes. The two astronauts moved the Pump Flow Control Subassembly (PFCS) from a spare parts platform on the station’s truss to the Dextre robotic arm. The PFCS drives and controls the flow of ammonia through the exterior portions of the station’s cooling system. The team then removed and replaced a camera group and a degraded Space to Ground Transmitter Receiver Controller, and was also able to complete several get-ahead tasks.

Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 54 days, 16 hours and 40 minutes working outside the station in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory.

For more information about the International Space Station, visit www.nasa.gov/station.

Veteran Spacewalkers Begin Excursion for Station Maintenance

astronauts Ricky Arnold, Drew Feustel and Norishige Kanai
NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold (left) and Drew Feustel (right) are pictured inside their U.S. spacesuits for a fit check verification ahead of a pair of spacewalks. Norishige Kanai (center), from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, assisted the duo in and out of the spacesuits during the sizing process.

Expedition 55 Flight Engineers Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold of NASA switched their spacesuits to battery power at 8:39 a.m. EDT, signifying the official start of today’s planned six-and-a-half-hour spacewalk outside the International Space Station.

Watch the spacewalk live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

Feustel is wearing the suit bearing the red stripes, and Arnold’s suit has no stripes. Views from a camera on Feustel’s helmet are designated with the number 17, and Arnold’s is labeled with the number 18. Feustel is designated extravehicular crew member 1 (EV1) for this spacewalk, the eighth of his career. Arnold, embarking on his fourth spacewalk, is extravehicular crew member 2 (EV2).

Live Spacewalk Coverage Begins Now on NASA TV

NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold
NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold is pictured inside a U.S. spacesuit for a fit check verification ahead of a pair of spacewalks.

NASA Television has begun coverage of today’s spacewalk, as Expedition 55 Flight Engineers Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold of NASA work outside the International Space Station for approximately 6.5 hours. The spacewalk is scheduled to begin at 8:10 a.m. EDT.

The objective of today’s spacewalk will be to move a component called a Pump Flow Control Subassembly (PFCS) from a spare parts platform on the station’s truss “backbone” to the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator (Dextre) robotic arm. The PFCS drives and controls the flow of ammonia through the exterior portions of the station’s cooling system. Robotics controllers on Earth will use Canadarm2 and Dextre to perform final installation on the port-side truss for checkout.

Follow along on NASA Television and the agency’s website. Keep up with station and crew activities via Twitter @space_station.

What Does It Take To Prepare for a Spacewalk?

Astronaut Drew Feustel
NASA astronaut Drew Feustel is pictured inside a U.S. spacesuit for a fit check verification ahead of a pair of spacewalks.

The Expedition 55 crew on board the International Space Station has been working hard to prepare for Wednesday’s spacewalk, and they’ll still have a lot of difficult work ahead of them when Flight Engineers Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel head outside the airlock. If you’ve ever wondered what makes spacewalks such a big deal, check out chapter 17 of the new NASA ebook, The International Space Station: Operating an Outpost in the New Frontier. The book, which was written by space station flight directors, is now available to download for free at… https://go.usa.gov/xQbvH.


Chapter 17: Extravehicular Activities – Building a Space Station
Planning and Training Extravehicular Activity Tasks

On paper, the tasks needed for International Space Station assembly—e.g., driving a bolt, carrying something from one place to another, taking off a cover, plugging in an electrical cord—might not seem too complex. However, conducting such tasks while wearing a spacesuit with pressurized gloves (possibly with one’s feet planted on the end of a long robotic arm), working in microgravity, maneuvering around huge structures while moving massive objects, having time constraints based on spacesuit consumables, and using specialized equipment and tools made these tasks and EVAs challenging.

Tasks such as working with cables or fluid hoses are hand-intensive work—fingers and forearms get quite a workout in pressurized gloves that feel like stiff balloons and resemble oversized garden gloves. Added to these complexities, space “walking” is mostly done with the hands. The astronaut grasps handholds and maneuvers the combination of the Extravehicular Mobility Unity, Simplified Aid for EVA Rescue, tools, and himself or herself around the structure.

The team on the ground has to come up with a choreography and order of events for the EVA, in advance. The flight control team creates the EVA timelines based on a high-level prioritized list of tasks determined by ISS management (e.g., move a specific antenna, install a particular avionics box). The flight controllers start with the top ISS priority task and assesses the other tasks that can fit into the EVA based on multiple factors such as how long the tasks will take based on past experiences, whether both crew members need to work together, task location on the ISS, how much equipment will fit into the airlock, the tools required, crew experience level, and the level of crew effort to complete the task. A task that might fit (but only if the team is efficient) is put on the list as a “get-ahead” task.

Real-time discussions in Mission Control of EVA time remaining, crew fatigue, and suit consumables could allow the get-ahead task to be accomplished in addition to the planned tasks. Some tasks are performed on a “clock”; i.e., if power is removed from an item, it might get cold and need heater power in a matter of hours or sometimes within minutes to prevent damage. While a timeline is still in a draft version, the team conducts testing as required to prove out the operations. The team then trains the crew and refines and/or changes the timeline, sometimes up to the day of the EVA.

Keep reading at https://go.usa.gov/xQbvH.

Cygnus Checks and Final Preps Before Wednesday’s Spacewalk

The Rio de la Plata and the Atlantic coasts of Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil
The Rio de la Plata and the Atlantic coasts of Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil are pictured from the International Space Station.

Two NASA astronauts are finalizing their preparations ahead of Wednesday morning’s spacewalk to swap thermal control gear outside the International Space Station. The Expedition 55 crew also worked on biomedical operations, radiation checks and Cygnus communications gear.

Flight Engineers Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel checked their tools and reviewed their procedures one last time today before tomorrow’s spacewalk. The pair will work for about 6.5 hours swapping a pair of thermal control devices, known as Pump Flow Control Subassemblies, which control the circulation of ammonia keeping external station systems cool.

The veteran spacewalkers will set their spacesuit batteries to internal power Wednesday at about 8:10 a.m. EDT signaling the official start of the 210th spacewalk in space station history. NASA TV will begin its live broadcast of the activities beginning at 6:30 a.m.

Science and maintenance are always ongoing aboard the orbital lab even despite the spacewalk and cargo mission readiness activities. Feustel and Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai collected their biological samples this morning and stowed them in a science freezer for later analysis. Cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev explored cardiac bioelectric activity at rest. Commander Anton Shkaplerov collected radiation measurements from dosimeters he retrieved from the orbital lab’s U.S. segment.

Orbital ATK is getting its Cygnus space freighter ready for launch Sunday at 5:04 a.m. to deliver science, supplies and hardware to the Expedition 55 crew. Astronaut Scott Tingle checked out command and communications gear that will be used when Cygnus arrives four days later on Thursday for capture at 5:20 a.m.

Virtual Reality Training and Global Robotics Work Before Spacewalk

The Kibo laboratory module
The Kibo laboratory module from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency was pictured as the International Space Station orbited over the southern Pacific Ocean east of New Zealand.

Two Expedition 55 Flight Engineers are using virtual reality and computer training today to prepare for next week’s spacewalk at the International Space Station. Robotics controllers from Houston and Japan are also maneuvering a pair of robotic arms for the upcoming spacewalk and satellite deployments.

NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel will conduct the 210th spacewalk at the space station beginning Wednesday, May 16 at 8:10 a.m. EDT. The veteran spacewalkers will work for about 6.5 hours swapping thermal control gear that controls the circulation of ammonia to keep external station systems cool. NASA TV begins its live coverage at 6:30 a.m.

The veteran spacewalkers checked the functionality a pair of jet packs that will be attached to their U.S. spacesuits next week. The jet packs, known as Simplified Aid For EVA Rescue (SAFER), provide mobility for spacewalkers in the unlikely event they become untethered from the station. The duo also wore virtual reality goggles to practice maneuvering their SAFER jet packs and reviewed their spacewalk procedures.

Robotics controllers from opposite sides of the world maneuvered a pair of robotic arms independently of each other today. Canada’s 57.7-foot-long robotic arm, nicknamed Canadarm2, was remotely positioned today by engineers in Houston in advance of next week’s spacewalk activities. Controllers from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency remotely operated the Kibo laboratory module’s robotic arm to prepare for the deployment of small satellites Friday morning.

Astronauts and Robotics Setting Up For Next Week’s Spacewalk

Stormy clouds are seen in the north Pacific Ocean
A portion of the Canadarm2 robotic arm (left) and stormy clouds are seen in the north Pacific Ocean as the International Space Station orbited off the eastern coast of Russia.

Activities on the International Space Station are moving ahead towards next week’s spacewalk to swap out thermal control equipment. Flight Engineers Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel will work outside the orbital lab for the maintenance job on May 16.

Robotics engineers are setting up the worksite on the Port 6 truss today ahead of next week’s spacewalk. Ground teams are remotely maneuvering the Canadarm2 with the Dextre robotic hand attached to relocate a leaky pump flow control subassembly (PFCS). The Canadarm2 will then be positioned afterward to support Arnold’s and Feustel’s work next week.

The duo will work outside the station for about 6.5 hours to swap locations of 2 PFCS boxes. The PFCS controls the circulation of ammonia to keep station systems cool. Other spacewalk tasks planned in the timeline include swapping out a variety of communications gear.

The two spacewalkers gathered their tools and were joined on Tuesday by Flight Engineers Scott Tingle and Norishige Kanai for a spacewalk procedures review. The foursome also checked in with mission controllers to discuss the upcoming spacewalk. Tingle and Kanai will assist the spacewalkers in and out of their spacesuits next week and help choreograph the excursion.

Experienced Spacewalkers Wrap Up Station Maintenance Excursion

There have been 209 spacewalks at the International Space Station since December 1998
There have been 209 spacewalks at the International Space Station since December 1998.

Expedition 55 Flight Engineers Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold of NASA completed the fourth spacewalk this year at 3:43 p.m. EDT, lasting 6 hours, 10 minutes. The two astronauts installed wireless communications antennas on the Tranquility module, replaced a camera system on the port truss and removed suspect hoses from a cooling system.

Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 54 days and 10 hours working outside the station in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory.

For more information about the International Space Station, visit www.nasa.gov/station.

Veteran Astronauts Exit Station to Begin Spacewalk

Astronaut Ricky Arnold
Astronaut Ricky Arnold is pictured in March 2009 during a spacewalk at the space station when he was a member of the STS-119 crew aboard space shuttle Discovery.

Expedition 55 Flight Engineers Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold of NASA switched their spacesuits to battery power at 9:33 a.m. EDT, signifying the official start of today’s planned six-and-a-half-hour spacewalk outside the International Space Station.

Watch the spacewalk live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

Feustel is wearing the suit bearing the red stripes, and Arnold’s suit has no stripes. Views from a camera on Feustel’s helmet are designated with the number 17, and Arnold’s is labeled with the number 18. Feustel is designated extravehicular crew member 1 (EV1) for this spacewalk, the seventh of his career. Arnold, embarking on his third spacewalk, is extravehicular crew member 2 (EV2).

Once outside the airlock, Feustel’s first task will be to install the wireless communications antenna on the Tranquility module, while Arnold will begin the process of removing a set of hoses from the cooling system.

Once they have completed those activities, they will work together to replace a camera system on the port truss.

Watch NASA TV Now as Spacewalkers Prepare to Exit Station

Astronauts Drew Feustel and John Grunsfeld
Astronauts Drew Feustel (top) and John Grunsfeld perform maintenance on the Hubble Space Telescope from the payload bay of space shuttle Atlantis in May of 2009.

NASA Television has begun coverage of today’s spacewalk, as Expedition 55 Flight Engineers Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold of NASA prepare to work outside the International Space Station for approximately 6.5 hours. Today’s spacewalk was originally scheduled to begin at 8:10 a.m. However, suit leak checks took longer than anticipated and has put them approximately 60-90 minutes behind the original timeline.

The objective of today’s spacewalk will be to will install wireless communications antennas on the Tranquility module, replace a camera system on the port truss and remove suspect hoses from a cooling system.

The wireless communications equipment will enhance payload data processing for the ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station (ECOSTRESS) experiment being flown to the station on a future SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft. The experiment will measure the temperature of plants on Earth to better understand how much water they need and how they respond to stress.

Follow along on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

Keep up with station and crew activities via Twitter @space_station. For more information about the International Space Station, visit www.nasa.gov/station.