In a recent news release, NASA announced that the astronauts onboard the International Space Station (ISS) are gearing up for not one, but two spacewalks in the near future. The first spacewalk is scheduled as early as next week, on May 16, while the second one will take place a month later, on June 14.
On both occasions, the privilege of venturing outside the ISS will fall on NASA astronauts Andrew Feustel and Ricky Arnold. The two flight engineers of Expedition 55 will put on their spacesuits and head out into the vacuum of space to work on the orbiting station's cooling system and its communication equipment.
"The primary objectives are to finish upgrading cooling system hardware and install new and updated communications equipment for future dockings of commercial crew spacecraft," NASA pointed out in the news release, noting that it will be live-streaming both spacewalks.
Each of the two spacewalks is scheduled to last for six and a half hours and will mark the 210th and 211th times that ISS astronauts have stepped outside the space station for maintenance and upgrade duties.
Next week's spacewalk will be the fourth in Arnold's astronaut career, followed by his fifth outing in space on June 14. Meanwhile, although he confessed he suffers from a "mild fear of heights," Feustel has already racked up seven spacewalks and is about to perform his eighth and ninth one.The May 16 spacewalk is scheduled to begin at about 8:10 a.m. and will start from the station's Quest airlock, becoming the 50th spacewalk to originate from this module. During next week's spacewalk, the two astronauts are tasked with replacing a failed Pump Flow Control Subassembly (PFCS), which controls the flow of ammonia through the space station's cooling system. Feustel and Arnold will remove the old PFCS and place a new one next to the ISS's Dextre robotic arm, which will be remotely controlled from Earth to install the component on the station's port-side truss.
The two spacewalkers will also be changing a camera system on the Destiny Laboratory, as well as a communications receiver, NASA reported. The U.S. space agency will begin the live coverage of the May 16 spacewalk as early as 6:30 a.m.
At the same time, the June 14 spacewalk is all about mounting new cameras on the space station's Harmony module and starboard truss. The two astronauts "will install a pair of brackets and high-definition cameras on the Harmony module" in order to "help commercial crew vehicles align with the international docking adapter at the forward end of Harmony," NASA notes in the news release.
The high-definition cameras that are to be installed on the Harmony module will also "provide wireless data network access for experiments and facilities" pertaining to the Columbus and the Kibo laboratory, which belong to the European and the Japanese space agencies, respectively.