Astronauts Gear Up for Dual Spacewalks: Swabbing for Space Microbes and Fixing Hardware

Astronauts Andreas Mogensen and Loral O’Hara Try On Their Spacesuits

(From left) Astronauts Andreas Mogensen from ESA (European Space Agency) and Loral O’Hara from NASA try on their spacesuits and test the suits’ components aboard the International Space Station’s Quest airlock in preparation for an upcoming spacewalk. Credit: NASA

Spacewalk preparations topped the schedule for the Expedition 70 crew aboard the International Space Station (ISS) on Friday, October 6. NASA managers previewed the spacewalks at the end of the week that will see astronauts exiting the orbital lab to collect microbe samples and service a variety of hardware.

Flight Engineer Loral O’Hara of NASA and space station Commander Andreas Mogensen of ESA (European Space Agency) will exit the space station on October 12 for a planned six-hour spacewalk. The duo will swab external station surfaces with specialized tools collecting samples of microorganisms for analysis. Scientists will process the samples to determine the types of microbes that may survive in the vacuum of space.

This animation discusses the October 12th spacewalk in which NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Andy Mogensen will exit the station’s Quest airlock to collect samples for analysis to see whether microorganisms may exist on the exterior of the orbital complex. They also will replace a high-definition camera on the port truss of the station and conduct other maintenance work to prepare for future spacewalks. Credit: NASA

The duo was joined on Friday by astronauts Jasmin Moghbeli of NASA and Satoshi Furukawa of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) to continue preparing for their mission’s first spacewalk. The foursome called down to specialists on the ground and reviewed the upcoming spacewalk’s procedures. All four astronauts also studied the robotics activities necessary to support the microbe-sampling spacewalk. Moghbeli and Furukawa will maneuver the Canadarm2 robotic arm during the excursion, monitor the astronauts during their spacewalk, and help the spacewalkers in and out of their spacesuits.

This animation discusses the October 20th spacewalk in which NASA astronauts Loral O’Hara and Jasmin Moghbeli will complete the removal of a faulty electronics box, called a Radio Frequency Group, from a communications antenna on the starboard truss of the station and replace one of twelve Trundle Bearing Assemblies on the port truss Solar Alpha Rotary Joint. Credit: NASA

NASA managers previewed the upcoming spacewalk activities on NASA TV on Friday. They also highlighted a second spacewalk scheduled for October 20 when O’Hara will exit the space station with Moghbeli. The two NASA astronauts will spend about six-and-a-half hours in the vacuum of space removing faulty radio communications gear and installing new solar array hardware.

The space station’s three cosmonauts representing Roscosmos spent their day conducting space research and maintaining orbital lab systems. Veteran flight engineer Oleg Kononenko installed Earth observation hardware during the morning and spent the rest of the day configuring electronics and communications gear. Nikolai Chub cleaned ventilation systems in the Zvezda service module and then studied how crew members may pilot future spacecraft. Konstantin Borisov photographed forests on Earth documenting natural and man-made changes and ended his day checking docking port components on Zvezda.

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