NASA astronauts quickly by an urgent spacewalk on Tuesday morning (23 May) for the replacement of a faulty computer relay box outside the International Space Station, completing the trip out in 2 hours and 46 minutes.
At the end of the spacewalk, space station commander Peggy Whitson, the 10th, she had snagged the third place record for total spacewalking time by 60 hours and 21 minutes in total, passing of former NASA astronauts Jerry Ross and John Grunsfeld. The spacewalk was the flight engineer Jack Fischer the second.
One of the two side-by-side multiplexer-demultiplexer (MDM) – data relay boxes outside of the space station failed Saturday, May 20, and space station managers have approved the non-scheduled spacewalk for the astronauts to replace the box with a spare. When the first computer fails, the backup immediately took over; the computer and a back-up control of the solar panels, radiators, robotics and cooling loops on the station. The crew were able to replace the box less than 2 days and 22 hours after the failure by the quickly-organized spacewalk. [Peggy Whitson the Historical Records as a NASA Astronaut (Video)]
Despite the crowds, the two astronauts had multiple opportunities to admire the view during their trip outside the station.
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“Oh my gosh, so beautiful,” Fischer said.
“Mhmm,” Whitson agreed.
“Epically amazeballs,” Fischer added. “That is how beautiful it is.”
According to a NASA spokesman, mr. Whitson built the replacement of the MDM of spare parts Sunday 21 May. Whitson and NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough installed the box during a spacewalk on March 30, and the mission managers still do not know why it failed, NASA officials said.
The two spacewalkers began 40 minutes early after quickly finishing the preparations, and they split after they left the station’s airlock. While Whitson to remove and replace the faulty MDM box, Fischer on the road to the Destiny laboratory to install two antennas that will help you with wireless communications — the task of the astronauts could not do it at the end of their first spacewalk together earlier this month.
The French astronaut Thomas Pesquet assisted the couple from the inside of the space station and used a handheld camera to take video of Fischer through the window.
During the install of the extra box Whitson noticed that it doesn’t sit quite right and saw that there is waste, so that the two astronauts had to work together to clean the connectors and reinstall the cover of the box. Fischer interrupted his work to drop a tool off with Whitson, went back to the airlock to grab supplies. He put away the trouble spot by using a specialized cleaner, similar to a compressed air blower used on Earth, dubbing the bolt holes are “clean as a whistle.” After that, mr. Whitson carefully screwed down in the box again with the guidance of the land, while Fischer with the antennas.
Whitson and Kimbrough ran into a similar problem when installing the first box-30 March, the NASA spokesman said. Ground control confirmed that the MDM had successfully booted before the astronauts went back inside.
This is the second fast space for Whitson and Fischer. Two weeks ago, they were ready, but one of their tasks in a condensed time frame during the 200th spacewalk for the international space station, performing all the important tasks in just 4.2 hours instead of the originally planned 6.5.
On June 2, Pesquet and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy will depart the space station in a Soyuz spacecraft back to Earth. On 1 June, a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft is scheduled to launch, carrying equipment and supplies for the remainder of the crew: Whitson, and Fischer, plus the Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin.
Original article on Space.com.