British astronaut Tim Peake is to assist in a spacewalk that will probably occur on Monday to fix the Mobile Transporter outside the International Space Station (ISS). His two American colleagues, Commander Scott Kelly and Flight Engineer Tim Kopra, will put on their space suits and repair the component – a rail that runs along most of ISS’s length, which a robotic arm can move along.
Libby Jackson, who works at the UK Space Agency said “It will be a very busy and interesting day for Tim.”
Late on Wednesday, the Mobile Transporter rail car on ISS’ truss was being moved by robotic flight controllers at Mission Control in Houston to a different worksite close to the centre of the truss for payload operations when it got stuck.
In this spacewalk in Mark 2009, NASA astronauts Joe Acaba and Astronaut Ricky Arnold worked to rolocate CETA (Crew and Equipment Translation Aid) near the Mobile Transporter. (Image: blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation)
NASA says the cause of the stall has not yet been determined. ISS Mission Integration and Operations Manager, Kenny Todd, says experts believe it could be related to a stuck brake handle.
Flight controllers had planned to move the Mobile Transporter away from the centre of the truss to worksite 2.
Spacewalkers must fix component before Progress 62 arrives
The component needs to be repaired before Progress 62 – a spacecraft used to resupply ISS – which is scheduled to launch at 3.44am (EST) on Monday, docks on the Pirs docking component at 5.31 (EST) on Wednesday.
NASA says the ISS Mission Management Team met on Friday and is aiming for a Monday spacewalk. This schedule will be confirmed on Sunday.
Commander Scott Kelly describe the task at hand as ‘no easy job’. (Image: twitter.com/StationCDRKelly)
NASA wrote on its website:
“It will be the 191st spacewalk in support of space station assembly and maintenance, the third in Kelly’s career and the second for Kopra. Kelly will be designated Extravehicular Activity crew member 1 (EV1) wearing the suit bearing the red stripes, and Kopra will be Extravehicular Activity crew member 2 (EV2) wearing the suit with no stripes.”
NASA TV coverage of the spacewalk will begin ninety minutes before the spacewalk begings.
Being in space ‘absolutely spectacular’
Major Peake, a former Army aviator and helicopter test pilot, said during a live link-up from the space platform that his first few days in space have been ‘absolutely spectacular’.
Major Peake having blood taken from his arm. (Image: twitter.com/astro_timpeake)
He said the first couple of hours had been ‘pretty rough’ and he felt ‘disorientated and dizzy’.
He said he was surprised at how rapidly his body has adapted to being in a weightless environment, and then did a backwards summersault.
Yesterday was cleaning day on ISS, Major Peake’s fourth day into his five-month mission. Cleaning may sound mundane and pretty straightforward, but in a microgravity environment it is no easy task.
In space, dust does not settle. As ISS is a closed system dust floats around everywhere instead of settling on the floor and other surfaces with gravity. The crew members have to make sure that surfaces remain clean and dust does not block up the filters or spoil the laboratory-like conditions required in the station.
A European Space Agency spokesperson said:
“It is extra-important to keep a clean house. Tim will join the rest of the crew to give the orbital laboratory a thorough hoover and wipe.”
BBC Video – Major Peake talks about life in space
In this video, Major Peake talks about his first three days in space.