Published: Sat, May 13, 2017
Research | By Jennifer Evans

US astronauts conduct 200th spacewalk

US astronauts conduct 200th spacewalk

Rookie space station flier Jack Fischer and commander Peggy Whitson kicked off a shortened spacewalk Friday to install a replacement avionics unit on an external storage platform.

This will be the 200th spacewalk for the construction and maintenance of the orbiting outpost.

Americans Whitson and Fischer also plan to install a wireless communications antenna and a high-definition TV camera, and to attach a debris shield onto an exposed docking port that is being prepared for commercial space taxis under development by Space Exploration Technologies and Boeing Co.

This is far from Whitson's first (space) rodeo, as she now holds the record for most spacewalks performed by an American woman, but it's Fischer's first time. The astronauts ended up sharing Whitson's hose while they waited, which reduced their suit battery power. The spacewalk is scheduled for 6.5 hours, and they'll be replacing an avionics box and running cable to a damaged experiment, along with other tasks.

The umbilical is not part of the spacesuit, NASA said, but is a piece of support equipment inside the space station.

'It has been exhibiting some thermal issues of late, so it is being replaced, ' explained Navias.

It was the first spacewalk for Fischer, who arrived at the station less than a month ago. She already held the record for most spacewalks executed by a female astronaut.

With a full-duration 6.5-hour spacewalk, Whitson would have moved up to third in the world with almost 60 hours of EVA time over nine excursions, trailing only cosmonaut Anatoli Solovyev, with 78 hours and 21 minutes of spacewalk time over 16 EVAs, and retired astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, with 67 hours and 40 minutes over 10 excursions.

The first U.S. spacewalk started at 3:45 p.m. EDT on the third orbit when White opened the hatch and used the hand-held manuevering oxygen-jet gun to push himself out of the capsule.

After the first three minutes the fuel ran out and White maneuvered by twisting his body and pulling on the tether.

NASA succeeds in its historic spacewalk on Friday, although it all began with a micro-gravity curveball. NASA is especially wary of leaks involving spacesuits.

The first piece of the International Space Station - a Russian module - was launched in 1998.

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