Two astronauts will take a spacewalk outside the International Space Station (ISS) today (Oct. 5), kicking off a trifecta of spacewalks set to take place over the next two weeks. The astronauts onboard the mission are Expedition 53 Commander Randy Bresnik and Mark Van Hei.
Astronauts will replace one of the two Latching End Effectors on Canadarm2, lubricate the new component and replace cameras at two locations on the station's truss. Joe Acaba arrived at the space station September 12 for his third mission to space.
The arm is integral to space station operations and can extend 60 feet off ISS, grabbing visiting cargo vehicles and payloads.
A few moments later, Vande Hei, making his first spacewalk, made his way outside. Specifically, the two latching mechanisms at each end of the arm, called Latching End Effectors, or LEEs, have been deteriorating.
They duo have been assigned to revolve around getting the Canadian robotic arm in good shape for doing work outside ISS. But then in August, the latches on the other LEE stalled during one of the arm's robotic maneuvers, so NASA decided that one was a higher priority to replace first.
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NASA TV is streaming the first of three October spacewalks on Thursday morning. Canadarm2 is anchored to the MBS and can be moved along the base's truss by the LEEs.
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Thursday's spacewalk is the 203rd EVA devoted to station assembly and maintenance since construction began in 1998, the eighth so far this year, the third for Bresnik and the first for Vande Hei.
The second and third spacewalks will concentrate on the lubrication of the LEE and the installation of a pair of external cameras.
The station has a spare LEE stored outside the ISS, which the astronauts retrieved to make the fix. Going into EVA-44, 126 astronauts and cosmonauts representing 10 nations had logged 1,258 hours and 15 minutes of station EVA time, or 52.4 days.