NASA streams first of three October spacewalks

NASA streams first of three October spacewalks

The first six-hour walk unfolded Thursday morning with Commander Randy Bresnik and Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei, the space agency said.

The outing by Americans Randy Bresnik and Mark Vande Hei ended at 3pm (3am on Friday Singapore time), marking a "very successful day", a Nasa spokesman said.

In this frame from a computer animation, Bresnik and Vande Hei are shown working to replace the grappling mechanism on one end of the space station's robot arm that has experienced age-related problems. One LEE is connected to the ISS by attaching the arm to the station; the other is extended into space and grabs the objects. Bresnik and Vande Hei will conduct the second spacewalk together. 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 duo were visiting the space station as STS-119 mission specialists aboard space shuttle Discovery.

In recent years, telemetry has indicated age-related degradation in the latching end effectors.

This will be the first in the series of three spacewalks scheduled for the month of October, with Bresnik taking the lead in all three.

Ground controllers are remotely maneuvering the Canadarm2 to the correct worksite today to allow the spacewalkers access to its LEE.

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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.

"Since these components are well beyond their design life, this really is expected wear and tear on the arm", Braithwaite said.

The station has a spare LEE stored outside the ISS, which the astronauts retrieved to make the fix.

The next two spacewalks, on October 10 and October 18, will focus on lubricating the joints in the new LEE using a device called a ballscrew lubrication tool, or BLT.

Five days from now, on October 10th, Bresnik and Vande Hei will do another spacewalk to lubricate the new LEE and then replace a camera on the outside of the station.

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