As a part of their maiden spacewalk, NASA astronauts Reid Wideman and German Alexander Gerst, both Americans, successfully relocated a failed ammonia pump module to an external stowage platform. In a space sojourn that lasted more than six hours, they repaired and helped overhaul a mission which was aborted almost a year ago.
Today’s spacewalk is the fifth out of a total seven such walks planned for 2014, and the 182nd overall spacewalk since the construction of the International Space Station (ISS) began back in 1998. Wiseman was designated as EV-1, wearing the suit with red stripes and Gerst donned the solid white spacesuit. The team also switched out a light bulb on one of the stations’ television cameras used to film vehicles arriving and departing the station, as well as installing a backup payload power system for the station’s mobile transporter.
Wiseman and Gerst’s main objective was to relocate a failed ammonia pump from the mobile transporter to an external stowage platform, closer to the airlock. The pump failed last December, and was replaced later that month; however, the crew that replaced it, did not have the time to move the failed pump.
The two men moved an old, broken cooling pump from a temporary location to permanent storage during a 6-hour trip outside the orbiting laboratory, 260 miles above Earth. The broken part had been temporarily stowed on the station’s truss ever since an off-schedule spacewalk last December was scaled down before the astronauts finished the job.
During the extra-vehicular activity (EVA), they also installed a new relay system that will provide backup power options to the mobile transporter, which moves the large robotic arm around the outside of the space station, as well as replaced a camera light.
“I can’t wait to see these pictures,” Gerst said.
It comes just a day before the much hyped and keenly anticipated “Bloodmoon”.
“Alex, it looks like we’ve almost got a full moon out here,” Wiseman said as he stepped outside of the hatch for the first time. “It’s beautiful.”
These U.S. EVAs (short for extravehicular activities, another name for spacewalks) are part of a series of spacewalks that will ultimately start prepping the station for the arrival of commercial crewed vehicles, according to Kenny Todd, space station integration operations manager.
“We’re going to be doing the things we need to do on these EVAs to prep for moving some modules around,” Todd said during a news conference previewing the spacewalks last week. “All that is in preparation for being able to support future [commercial] crewed vehicles coming to [the] station. We’re trying to get out in front of that … We’ll be prepping for moving modules; we’ll be installing a new docking adapter system. All of that will be happening throughout the next several months onboard the station.”
The station currently plays host to an international crew of six. Wiseman, Gerst and Wilmore are joined by Russian cosmonauts Maxim Suraev, Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova, who round out the Expedition 41 crew.