Space station commander Chris Cassidy and Robert Behnken floated back outside Tuesday for their fourth spacewalk in less than a month, completing preparations for future upgrades including the eventual installation of an airlock that will allow commercial experiments to be moved into and out of vacuum as required.
Space station commander Chris Cassidy and Robert Behnken plan to float outside Friday for the first of up to four spacewalks needed to complete the replacement of aging batteries in the lab’s solar power system. NASA managers hope to get the work done in time for Behnken and crewmate Douglas Hurley to return to Earth aboard their Crew Dragon capsule by around Aug. 2, officials said Wednesday.
During a fourth spacewalk Saturday to wrap up repairs of the coolant system in a $2 billion cosmic ray detector, Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano and Drew Morgan discovered a leak in one of eight coolant lines that were spliced into a new pump module during three earlier excursions. But Parmitano was able to tighten a fitting on the line and the astronauts were able to complete the repair work, setting the stage for the instrument to resume science operations.
It took NASA more than 50 years to stage its first all-female spacewalk last October. It took three months before the second on Jan. 15 and just five days more for the third on Monday, a successful six-hour 58-minute excursion to finish installing a set of new solar array batteries aboard the International Space Station.
After prepping their patient — a $2 billion cosmic ray detector — during two earlier spacewalks, two space station astronauts ventured back outside for a third outing Monday to carry out what amounted to transplant surgery, installing replacement coolant pumps in a bid to revive the costly instrument and extend its life.