NASA’s Spacewalk Schedule Altered Due to Coolant Leak Concerns

Expedition 70 Astronauts Pose for a Portrait Inside Their Crew Quarters

Four Expedition 70 crew members pose for a fun portrait inside their crew quarters aboard the International Space Station’s Harmony module. Clockwise from bottom are, NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli; ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Andreas Mogensen; JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Satoshi Furukawa; and NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara. Credit: NASA

As a result of the ongoing review by NASA managers and engineers after a coolant leak from a backup radiator on the International Space Station’s Nauka multipurpose laboratory module, a spacewalk that was targeted for no earlier than Thursday, October 19 now is deferred until later this year.

The spacewalk date was adjusted to allow engineers additional time to complete analysis of the coolant leak, which occurred and stopped on October 9. The coolant is not toxic or hazardous for the crew, but experts are discussing how to best keep small traces of the substance from getting into some internal systems to avoid equipment degradation over time. The tasks planned for this spacewalk are not time-sensitive and the schedule adjustment has no impact on space station operations.

Upcoming U.S. Spacewalks

A spacewalk scheduled for Monday, October 30, now becomes U.S. Spacewalk 89. During that spacewalk, NASA astronauts Loral O’Hara and Jasmin Moghbeli will exit the station’s Quest airlock to complete the removal of a faulty electronics box, called a Radio Frequency Group, from a communications antenna bracket and replace one of twelve Trundle Bearing Assemblies on the port truss Solar Alpha Rotary Joint. The bearings enable the station’s solar arrays to rotate properly to track the Sun as the station orbits the Earth. During this spacewalk, Moghbeli will serve as EVA crew member 1 and O’Hara will serve as EVA crew member 2. This will be the first spacewalk for both O’Hara and Moghbeli.

 Baja California Sur on the Pacific Ocean From ISS

The north coast of the Mexican state of Baja California Sur on the Pacific Ocean is pictured from the International Space Station as it orbited 258 miles above. Credit: NASA

Later this year, O’Hara and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Andreas Mogensen will conduct what will become U.S. Spacewalk 90, 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.

Roscosmos Spacewalk and Other Activities

Meanwhile, a spacewalk by Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub remains scheduled for Wednesday, October 25. During that spacewalk, Kononenko and Chub will install a synthetic radar communications system on the Russian segment of the orbiting laboratory and deploy a nanosatellite to test solar sail technology. In addition, they plan to inspect and photograph the backup radiator that leaked on the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module.

Sicily and Southern Italy From ISS

Southern Italy (to the right of the image) meets Sicily (to the left), the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of 20 Italian regions. At its closest point, Sicily resides only 2 miles (~3.2km) from mainland, the two connected by the Strait of Messina. From 260 miles above, the International Space Station offers a unique vantage point of where the two regions meet. Credit: NASA

Spacewalk preparations continued aboard the International Space Station as the Expedition 70 astronauts and cosmonauts serviced their individual spacesuits on Monday. Cargo operations are also underway as the orbital residents work inside the Cygnus space freighter and look ahead to the next SpaceX Dragon cargo mission.

Daily Activities of the Crew

Mogensen began Monday emptying and refilling water tanks and cleaning cooling loops inside a pair of spacesuits. Moghbeli completed the maintenance in the afternoon terminating the cooling loop work and then deconfiguring the spacesuits.

Mogensen then spent the rest of the afternoon partnering with O’Hara unpacking supplies and loading trash inside Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus cargo craft. Moghbeli joined Flight Engineer Satoshi Furukawa of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) pre-packing cargo bags that will be loaded aboard the next SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft to visit the orbiting lab. Furukawa began his day processing samples and swapping gas bottles inside the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace, a high-temperature thermophysics research device.

The Caspian Sea and the Coast of Northern Iran

The Caspian Sea and cities and towns on the coast of northern Iran are pictured from the International Space Station as it orbited 259 miles above. Credit: NASA

Kononenko and Chub spent Monday morning preparing for their upcoming spacewalk as they charged batteries and inspected life support components inside their Orlan spacesuits. Following that, Kononenko moved on to cardiac research while Chub checked and closed hatches between the Poisk airlock and the Roscosmos Progress 84 resupply ship.

Roscosmos Flight Engineer Konstantin Borisov began his day working on the Elektron oxygen generator and other life support components. In the afternoon, he assisted Kononenko with his cardiac work and inspected portions of the Zvezda service module.

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