Astronauts performing spacewalk at International Space Station
06 October 2017, 12:24 | Bernard Bryant
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In this first spacewalk, NASA astronauts Randy Bresnik and Mark Vande Hei will replace an aging machine called the Latching End Effector (LEE) at the end of the Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS), or Canadarm2.
The trio of spacewalks will be Bresnik's third, fourth and fifth, while Vande Hei will experience his first two spacewalks.
"Appreciate those words", Vande Hei replied. It's the first of three NASA spacewalks planned over the next two weeks. The arm also relays power, data and video to and from attached payloads. The LEE works like a hand at the end of the robotic arm and grapples incoming cargo spacecraft like SpaceX's Dragon and Orbital ATK's Cygnus.
The Canadarm 2 measures 57.7 feet long, weighs almost 4,000 pounds, has seven joints and, in the weightless environment of low-Earth orbit, can move large spacecraft and modules from one point to another. "We're actually very pleased that both LEEs lasted this long", he said. They're complex devices, incorporating sensors, electronics, and a camera, so reparations are not an easy feat. That way, the arm can move like an inchworm across the sprawling structure.
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The station has a spare LEE stored outside the ISS, which the astronauts retrieved to make the fix.
In recent years, telemetry has indicated age-related degradation in the latching end effectors.
Linking students directly to astronauts aboard the space station provides unique, authentic experiences created to enhance student learning, performance and interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
The duo have been tasked to replace the arm.
They replaced one of two Latching End Effectors (LEE) which had lost the ability to grip effectively, said the United States space agency. The faulty LEE will be repositioned on the mobile transporter and eventually returned to Earth for repairs. Initially, NASA planned to fix the LEE which seemed most degraded, but the other one stopped working, which moved it to the top of the priority list. Another fight-ready spare is available for launch as needed. Bresnik last visited the station aboard space shuttle Atlantis during the STS-129 mission. Components of the LEEs were created to last 10 to 15 years, and it's been 16 years since they were installed. NASA astronaut Joe Acaba will join Bresnik for the third and final spacewalk. 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.
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