Station crew prepares for US – directed spacewalk
By Irene Klotz
CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) – NASA next week will
direct its first spacewalk in 2-1/2 years by International
Space Station crewmembers, space agency officials said on
The spacewalk set for Monday will be the first under NASA’s
full control since a glitch in the cooling system contaminated
U.S. spacesuits and the U.S. airlock aboard the orbital
Crewmembers fixed the airlock, but until a U.S. space
shuttle could deliver new U.S. spacesuits, spacewalkers had to
use Russian suits, which can only be serviced in the Russian
airlock. Moscow oversees spacewalks from its airlock.
New U.S. spacesuits arrived during July’s mission to the
station by the shuttle Discovery, the only shuttle flight since
Columbia burst apart over Texas in 2003.
Station commander Bill McArthur and flight engineer Valery
Tokarev have two main tasks during their planned 5-1/2-hour
“The tasks themselves are not overly challenging,” said
lead spacewalk developer Anna Jarvis on a teleconference call
with reporters on Thursday. What will be difficult is getting
out of the airlock on time and staying on schedule.
Crewmembers will attach a television camera to a pole and
carry it 60 feet to the end of the station’s port truss for
installation. NASA needs the camera to guide a future shuttle
McArthur and Tokarev then plan to remove a deteriorating
instrument that measures electric fields around the station.
If time allows, they also will replace two failed
electrical components on other parts of the station.
The spacewalk details were announced as new NASA
administrator Mike Griffin told the U.S. Congress that NASA
faced a budget shortfall of up to $5 billion as it attempts to
operate the shuttle, complete the space station and build a new
spacecraft and launcher for missions to the moon and Mars.
Griffin said the agency had cut research projects aboard
the space station as a result.