Space station spacewalk postponed by astronaut medical issue

NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei on the International Space Station. Credit: NASA

A planned spacewalk outside the International Space Station Tuesday was postponed after NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei was diagnosed with a pinched nerve, which NASA described as a “minor medical issue.”

Vande Hei planned to head outside the space station Tuesday with Japanese crewmade Akihiko Hoshide for a nearly seven-hour spacewalk to install a support bracket and modification kit that will enable the attachment of upgraded solar arrays set to arrive on a future cargo mission.

The astronauts also planned to replace a floating point measurement unit, a device that measures the electrical charging potential of the space station solar arrays.

NASA announced the postponement of the spacewalk Monday, describing Vande Hei’s condition as a “minor medical issue” and not a medical emergency.

‘The spacewalk is not time-sensitive and crew members are continuing to move forward with other station work and activities,” NASA said.

The agency said managers are evaluating the next opportunity to conduct the spacewalk, following the launch and docking of a SpaceX Dragon cargo ship this weekend, and two Russian spacewalks scheduled in early September.

In a tweet Tuesday, Vande Hei said he has a pinched nerve in his neck.

“Thanks for everyone’s concern,” Vande Hei tweeted. “I have a pinched nerve in my neck that caused us to reschedule today’s spacewalk. The support from family, friends, and NASA leadership has been fantastic.

“I’m looking forward to installing this IROSA Mod kit,” he tweeted. “Today just wasn’t the right day.”

Vande Hei, 54, is flying on his second space mission. He launched April aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft with commander Oleg Novitskiy and flight engineer Pyotr Dubrov. Vande Hei is scheduled to remain at the space station until March, when he will return to Earth on a Soyuz capsule.

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