Two astronauts ventured outside the International Space Station early Thursday to carry out what amounts to hand transplant surgery on the lab's Canadian-built robot arm, removing a crippled grapple fixture on one end of the arm and replacing it with an on-board spare.
On October 10th, Bresnik and Vande Hei will do another spacewalk to lubricate the new LEE on Canadarm2, and then replace a camera on the outside of the station. Joe Acaba arrived at the space station September 12 for his third mission to space.
Officially called the Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS), Canadarm2 is part of the Mobile Servicing System (MSS), and it is one of the most crucial tools on the ISS.
In recent years, telemetry has indicated age-related degradation in the latching end effectors. To tell the two apart during the webcast, look for the red stripes on Bresnik's suit.
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The robotic arm has been a key piece of equipment at the orbiting outpost for more than 16 years, but began malfunctioning in August. The duo were visiting the space station as STS-119 mission specialists aboard space shuttle Discovery. One of the Canadarm2 grappling mechanisms experienced a stall of its motorized latches last month, but the problem has had no effect on planned station operations.
This came as no surprise, however, as the two LEEs on Canadarm2 have already exceeded their life expectancy, said Tim Braithwaite, the ISS program liaison for the Canadian Space Agency.
NASA TV is streaming the first of three October spacewalks on Thursday morning. While this will be the first-ever spacewalk of the latter, it will mark the third one of Bresnik.
The second and third spacewalks will concentrate on the lubrication of the LEE and the installation of a pair of external cameras.
Similar to the International Space Station, this new space station will be open to to astronauts and cosmonauts globally.
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