"Two NASA astronauts switched their spacesuits to battery power this morning at 8:05 a.m. EDT aboard the International Space Station to begin a spacewalk planned to last about 6.5 hours", NASA announced.
Five days from now, on October 10th, Bresnik and Vande Hei will do another spacewalk to lubricate the new LEE and then replace a camera on the outside of the station.
"The major objective of this first spacewalk is to swap out the degraded Latching End Effector on the Canadarm2 with an identical unit that's now located on the mobile transporter" outside the space station, Judd Frieling, NASA's spacewalk flight director, said at a news conference Monday (Oct. 2). Now, efforts will focus on the robotic arm, informally known as Canadarm2.
A few moments later, Vande Hei, making his first spacewalk, made his way outside. For the third spacewalk, Acaba will join Bresnik instead. In the early 2000s, Canadarm2 was used to help move and install large pieces of equipment. It's the first of three NASA spacewalks planned over the next two weeks.
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. A spare LEE is located along the side of the station's truss.
But that doesn't mean it doesn't experience wear and tear. The malfunction hasn't impacted any operations, but it needs to be replaced.
The next two spacewalks, on October 10 and October 18, will focus on lubricating the joints in the new LEE using a device called a ballscrew lubrication tool, or BLT.
Thursday's spacewalk is the 203rd EVA devoted to station assembly and maintenance since construction began in 1998, the eighth so far this year, the third for Bresnik and the first for Vande Hei.