NASA astronauts Andrew Feustel and Ricky Arnold stepped outside the International Space Station (ISS) on Thursday to work on the orbiting lab’s communications equipment. After yesterday’s spacewalk, which lasted for almost seven hours, the station has now been outfitted for future dockings of commercial crew vehicles, NASA announced on June 14.
Feustel and Arnold put on their spacesuits and emerged from the station’s Quest airlock at around 8:10 a.m. EDT (1210 GMT), spending the following six hours and 49 minutes working on the upgrades for the ISS, reports Space.com.
“The two astronauts installed new high-definition cameras that will provide enhanced views during the final phase of approach and docking of the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Boeing Starliner commercial crew spacecraft that will soon begin launching from American soil,” the space agency stated in a blog post.
As NASA’s lead spacewalk officer, Keith Johnson, explained during a media conference last month, these cameras will do more than just film docking spacecraft.
“They also form part of an external wireless communication system. So, they will be able to talk to the Japanese Exposed Facility payloads that will be out there, and the Columbus module is going to have a big set of experiments that are coming up, and this is out there to provide communication to that,” said Johnson.
Aside from mounting the new HD cameras on the station’s Harmony module and starboard truss, Feustel and Arnold also checked on an external environmental imaging experiment set up outside the Japanese Kibo module and closed its aperture door.
In the video above, Feustel — who became Commander of Expedition 56 on June 1, as reported by the Inquisitr — is seen working outside the Kibo lab module on the Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (CATS) payload. CATS is a lidar remote-sensing instrument launched in 2015 and destined to “extend profile measurements of atmospheric aerosols and clouds” from the ISS, notes NASA.
At the same time, the two spacewalkers exchanged a camera assembly on the station’s starboard truss and moved a grapple bar designed to help astronauts on their future ventures into space.
Last but not least, the NASA astronauts secured some of the equipment related to a spare cooling unit on the ISS’ truss. This is the pair’s second spacewalk together in two months after Feustel and Arnold geared up on May 16 and headed out to upgrade the station’s cooling system, the Inquisitr reported at the time.
Two hours into the spacewalk, the agency’s Twitter account posted a video revealing what a normal “office day” looks like for the astronauts living and working in space.
“Two humans have been working in space for 2 hours and 10 minutes now. How’s your office been?” NASA tweeted.
Yesterday’s spacewalk is the sixth venture outside the ISS in 2018 and the 211th in the nearly 18 years since astronauts have started braving the vacuum of space to assemble and repair the space station. According to NASA, humans have spent an impressive total of 54 days, 23 hours, and 29 minutes spacewalking to fix the ISS.
Thanks to this latest endeavor, Feustel has now claimed the third place in the top of most cumulative time spent spacewalking, revealed the space agency. After yesterday’s spacewalk — the ninth in his career and the first since he assumed command of the space station — Feustel has now spent a total of 61 hours and 48 minutes spacewalking.
As per a NASA video uploaded on YouTube on June 14, Feustel has surpassed NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson — the previous holder of the third position, with 60 hours and 21 minutes of spacewalk time during 10 spacewalks — and is now ranked No. 3, after Russian cosmonaut Anatoly Solovyev (16 spacewalks, 78 hours and 21 minutes) and American astronaut Mike Lopez-Alegria (10 spacewalks, 67 hours and 40 minutes).
Meanwhile, Arnold has racked up a total of 32 hours and four minutes of spacewalk time. Yesterday’s outing was the flight engineers fifth spacewalk.