NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins and Victor Glover on a space tour Saturday outside the International Space Station to upgrade the laboratory’s communications and cooling systems. The march, which took place 250 miles above the ground, lasted nearly seven hours.
Struggling with unstable electrical conductors, Hopkins was able to connect and secure three of the four cables for the thick power and data that the European Test Platform would need while walking in difficult space, leaving one cable for additional troubleshooting.
Hopkins and his colleague Victor Glover also vented residual ammonia coolant from two jumpers used to service the plant’s thermal control system, and stored hoses in various locations for future use if needed. One of the jumpers released more crystals of icy ammonia than expected when it was ventilated into space, but the astronauts said their suits did not appear to be contaminated with any chips that could be returned to the station.
Hopkins and Glover, floating in the Quest airlock, embarked on a journey Saturday when they switched their spacesuits to battery power at 8:14 a.m. EST, as Operation 237 Spacewalk assigned to station assembly and maintenance took off since construction began in 1997. 1998.
The first task on the agenda was to safely vent the two ammonia connections, used to load the coolant into the plant’s thermal control system and to help track down leaks. The jumpers were located on the far left end of the laboratory solar power gear, a part known as port 6, or P6.
After confirming that there was no contamination with the ammonia ice crystals, the astronauts stored one jumper on the P6 segment for any future troubleshooting that might be required on this side of the station while the other was installed outside the airlock for use if needed later on the right side.
“Of course, when dealing with ammonia, increased vigilance is necessary due to the concern that if we get ammonia contamination on the suits, and then we put that inside the station, it could represent a potentially toxic atmosphere for the crew and the station.” Flight Director Chris Edlin said earlier.
With the transit venting and relocation complete, Glover installed an alternate radio transmitter and receiver for the camera near the central unit unit while Hopkins was operating at the forward end of the station where the European Space Agency’s Columbus Laboratory Unit was attached.
An outdoor experiment platform known as Bartolomeo was attached to the front side of Columbus earlier, but space walkers had problems completing electrical connections during a previous outing. Hopkins struggled to complete the mission on Saturday, but succeeded in the end with three of four cables.
Glover replaced a wireless camera transmitter and receiver and a hardened hook with a flexible heat sheath on the Quest airlock’s exterior hatch. He complained of unusual irritation that caused his right eye to tear briefly, but said that frequent blinking seemed to help.
Hopkins also reconfigured the HAM radio antenna on the European Columbus unit which failed to function properly after a recent upgrade and both began working on routing two Ethernet cables that would eventually be part of an extended external wi-fi.
“Mate! It’s over center,” Hopkins called when the first flip-flop connector was plugged in and held in place. “Cute! The crowd goes untamed!”
“Good job, great, excellent work,” replied Andreas Mogensen of the Mission Control Center. “good news.”
“I used to say touched the ball, but he played on the wrong side of the ball,” Glover quipped, referring to Hopkins’ college football career as a defensive full-back at the University of Illinois.
“We have objections every now and then,” Hopkins said.
The group of external transmitters and receivers for Wireless Video System, or WETA, that Glover installed is one of three installed around the outside of the station. The unit in question failed late last year.
“This is basically an antenna that receives the transmission from the crew’s helmets,” said Idlin. “We … really appreciate having this in Mission Control during EVAs so we can get the crew member perspective to see exactly what they’re working on. So we definitely want … replace this so we have coverage.”
All major spacewalk missions were originally planned earlier this month but have been delayed after the assembly of two solar array support installations took longer than expected.
The space walk ended at 3:01 PM for six hours and 47 minutes. The station’s total time for spacewalks through its 237 flights is now 1,491 hours and 54 minutes, or 62.2 days.
It was Glover and Hopkins’ fourth space march, fifth time.