Spacewalking astronauts making repairs on International Space Station in October

Spacewalking astronauts making repairs on International Space Station in October

Spacewalking astronauts making repairs on International Space Station in October

Three astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) will be taking the first of three October spacewalks today.

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.

Bresnik and Vande Hei will venture back outside October 10 while Joe Acaba will join the station commander for the October 18 excursion.

In this frame from a computer animation, Bresnik and Vande Hei are shown working to replace the grappling mechanism on one end of the space station's robot arm that has experienced age-related problems. Described by NASA as an "agile worm" due to its 540 degree rotation, the Canadian-built arm is an big improvement over the original Canadarm, which flew on various Space Shuttles.

Canadarm2, the Canadian robotic arm is one of the essential tools on the ISS.

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The trio of spacewalks will be Bresnik's third, fourth and fifth, while Vande Hei will experience his first two spacewalks. Joe Acaba arrived at the space station September 12 for his third mission to space. One LEE is connected to the ISS by attaching the arm to the station; the other is extended into space and grabs the objects. As extravehicular crewmember 1 (EV 1), Bresnik gets to wear the suit with red stripes on it, while Vande Hei (EV 2) will wear a plain white suit. The spacewalk is the first of three planned over the next two weeks. Canadarm2 is anchored to the MBS and can be moved along the base's truss by the LEEs.

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The second and third spacewalks will concentrate on the lubrication of the LEE and the installation of a pair of external cameras.

They replaced one of two Latching End Effectors (LEE) which had lost the ability to grip effectively, said the U.S. space agency.

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