Two NASA flight engineers have successfully completed the first spacewalk of 2018 aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The 206th spacewalk in the history of the ISS, U.S. EVA 47 saw the two astronauts replace a Latching End Effector (LEE) on Canadarm2, the station’s robotic arm.
The first spacewalk of 2018 saw the replacement of a robotic hand on the Canadarm2. It was also the 206th spacewalk in support of station maintenance since December 1998. https://t.co/yopIUDpLuf pic.twitter.com/frkHYXcfLo
— Intl. Space Station (@Space_Station) January 23, 2018
Mark Vande Hei and Scott Tingle embarked on the first spacewalk of the year at 19:13 GMT (14:13 EST) on Jan. 23. U.S. EVA 47 lasted 7 hours and 24 minutes with the pair successfully completing the LEE replacement. Yesterday’s spacewalk was Vande Hei’s third with his total EVA time now at 20 hours and 45 minutes. It was Tingle first. EVAs in support of the ISS assembly and maintenance now total 53 days, 13 hours and 49 minutes.
The replaced LEE is used at the end of the station’s robot arm to grab approaching vehicles and components. The arm is used for a variety of operational activities and its continued performance is vital to operations aboard the station.
“Canadarm2 will have fresh hands and be ready to get about the business of the rest of the program,” said Tim Braithwaite, a Canadian Space Agency liaison officer at NASA. “Worth noting, these original Canadarm2 LEEs both comfortably exceeded their design expectation, lasted years longer than we thought they were going to. So we’re really pleased with that.”
The next ISS spacewalk is scheduled for Jan. 29. It will be Vande Hei’s fourth. He will be joined by JAXA Flight Engineer Norishige Kanai. According to a statement released by NASA, the pair will, “stow a spare latching end effector removed from the robotic arm last October on to the station’s mobile base system rail car for future use”
Although it seems to be business as usual aboard the ISS, there continues to be uncertainty regarding the future of the station. Last month a report by the National Academies urged NASA to clarify their position on the future of the ISS past 2024.
Image Credit: NASA