Two astronauts will venture outside the International Space Station on Friday, Feb. 16, to move components for the station’s robotic system into long-term storage. Live coverage of the spacewalk will begin at 5:30 a.m. EST on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
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 Jan. 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 Jan. 29, but was postponed when a new LEE, installed during the Jan. 23 spacewalk, encountered startup issues. Those issues were resolved Jan. 27 through software updates written by Canadian Space Agency robotics specialists. The spacewalk was rescheduled again to accommodate the Feb. 15 docking of the Russian Progress 69 cargo spacecraft that launched Feb. 13.
The spacewalk will be the 208th in support of space station assembly and maintenance and the third this year. The spacewalk will be the fourth 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.
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