New Delhi: On Friday, February 16, two astronauts currently aboard the International Space Station (ISS) – NASA's Mark Vande Hei and JAXA's Norishige Kanai – will step out into space for a planned six-and-a-half-hour spacewalk to put things in order.
The astronauts are scheduled to begin their spacewalk at 7:10 am to move components for the station's robotic system into long-term storage, NASA said on Wednesday.
The two spacewalkers will move a Latching End Effector (LEE), or hand, for the Canadian-built robotic arm, Canadarm2, from a payload attachment on the station's Mobile Base System rail car to the Quest airlock.
This LEE was replaced during an Expedition 53 spacewalk in October 2017 and will be returned to Earth to be refurbished and relaunched to the orbiting laboratory as a spare.
They also will move an aging, but functional, LEE that was detached from the arm during a January 23 spacewalk and move it from its temporary storage outside the airlock to a long-term storage location.
That LEE will be available as a spare part on the Mobile Base System, which is used to move the arm and astronauts along the station's truss structure.
The spacewalk originally was scheduled for January 29 but was postponed when a new LEE, installed during the spacewalk, encountered start-up issues.
Those issues were later resolved through software updates written by Canadian Space Agency robotics specialists.
The spacewalk was rescheduled again to accommodate the February 15 docking of the Russian Progress 69 cargo spacecraft that launched on February 13, NASA said.
The 69P is due to complete its delivery when it docks on Thursday at 5:43 am EST (4:13 pm India time).
The spacewalk will be the 208th in support of space station assembly and maintenance and the third in 2018.
This will also be will be the fourth spacewalk in Vande Hei’s career and the first for Kanai, who will become the fourth Japanese astronaut to walk in space.
Vande Hei will wear the suit bearing the red stripes and Kanai’s suit will have no stripes.
(With IANS inputs)