ISS On Track For Commercial Crew Preparations With First Of Three Planned EVAs Completed

Last Friday, March 24, 2017, members of the Expedition 50 crew made the 198th EVA in support of the International Space Station to make preparations for the arrival of future commercial crews and perform routine maintenance. The two EVA astronauts were Expedition 50 commander Shane Kimbrough of NASA and Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet of ESA. This was Kimbrough’s fifth and Pesquet’s second EVA.

Canadarm2 is an upgraded version of the original Canadarm that was used on the space shuttle. It just needs lubrication and maintenance every once in a while. Image credit NASA

Plans for this EVA included disconnecting cables and electrical connections to PMA-3, one of three pressurized mating adapters to which visiting spacecraft can dock, as part of preparations to move PMA-3 to a new location during the next spacewalk. The spacewalkers were also slated to install the first of two new computer relay box equipped with advanced software for PMA-3 to the Starboard-0 truss. The two spacewalkers lubricated the latching end effector on the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator “extension” for the Canadarm2 robotic arm, inspected a radiator valve suspected of a small ammonia leak and replaced cameras on the Japanese segment of the outpost.

The second EVA in this series has been rescheduled for March 30th and will feature Kimbrough and Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson of NASA. This will be Whitson’s seventh EVA. PMA-3 will have been moved from its current location on the port side of the Tranquility module to the space-facing side of the Harmony module by this point and the two crew members will reconnect cables and electrical connections. They will also install the second of the upgraded computer relay boxes on the station’s truss and install shields and covers on PMA-3 and the now-vacant common berthing mechanism port on Tranquility.

The final spacewalk will be the 200th in support of the International Space Station and tentatively feature Whitson and Pesquet. This EVA has been rescheduled for Thursday, April 6 and will be Whitson’s eighth spacewalk if she is selected for this EVA, making her the record-holder for most EVAs performed by a woman. Plans for the final EVA in this series include replacing a storage container on the starboard truss called an ExPRESS Logistics Carrier with one that is due to arrive on an upcoming Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo spacecraft mission. The box houses electrical and command and data routing equipment for the science experiments and replacement hardware stored outside of the station.

These EVAs will be streamed live on NASA TV.

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