Astronauts do space station home repair on spacewalk

Astronauts prep orbiting station for future addition of Russian module

Two astronauts are in the midst of a six-and-a-half-hour spacewalk to prep the International Space Station for the addition of a Russian module to its backbone later this year.

NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency, both flight engineers on the space station, began today's spacewalk at 8:02 a.m. ET. The work outside the space station is scheduled to last until about 2:30 p.m., according to NASA.

Spacewalk
Flight Engineer Chris Cassidy's hands can be seen routing cables outside the International Space Station during Tuesday's space walk. (Photo: NASA TV)

For live coverage of the spacewalk, tune in to NASA TV.

This is not the first spacewalk needed to prepare for the new Russian module.

Last month, two Russian cosmonauts completed a six-hour spacewalk, the first of what is expected to be walks outside the space station in preparation to replace an older airlock with a new multipurpose laboratory module.

The Russian Federal Space Agency is scheduled to send the combination research facility, airlock and docking port to the station on a Proton rocket later this year.

In today's spacewalk, one of the first things Cassidy, who is on the fifth spacewalk of his career, did was replace a Space-to-Ground transmitter that had failed last December. The transmitter is one of two that enables independent strings of Ku-band communications for the station's video and data feeds.

At the same time, Parmitano, who rode the station's robotic arm today on his first spacewalk, headed to a different part of the station to retrieve two experiments conducted to study the space environment's impact on processor materials. Both experiments are set to be returned to Earth on a SpaceX-3 commercial cargo craft later this year.

Cassidy meanwhile routed power cables to support the addition of the new Russian Multipurpose Laboratory Module, accoding to NASA.

In a future spacewalk, the cosmonauts will complete the routing work.

Today, Cassidy and Parmitano also repositioned two radiator grapple bars, removed a failed camera assembly and installed power redundancy cables. They also installed a multi-layered insulation cover in one of the station's docking interfaces.

This article, NASA: Astronauts do space station home repair on spacewalk, was originally published at Computerworld.com.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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