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50 Astronauts to conduct 3 Spacewalks outside International Space Station (ISS) for future arrival of commercial crew Spacecraft

The spacewalkers also will install on the starboard zero truss a new computer relay box equipped with advanced software for the adapter

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Aerial View of NASA. Wikimedia

Washington, March 24, 2017: Starting Friday, Expedition 50 astronauts will conduct up to three spacewalks outside the International Space Station (ISS) to prepare for the future arrival of commercial crew spacecraft and upgrade station hardware, NASA said.

The second and third spacewalks are scheduled for March 30 and April 6.

The spacewalks will be the 198th, 199th and 200th in support of space station assembly and maintenance.

The first spacewalk will prepare the Pressurised Mating Adapter-3 (PMA-3) for installation of the second International Docking Adapter, which will accommodate commercial crew vehicle dockings, NASA said.

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The PMA-3 provides the pressurised interface between the station modules and the docking adapter.

Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough of NASA and Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) will disconnect cables and electrical connections on PMA-3 to prepare for its robotic move on March 26.

PMA-3 will be moved from the port side of the Tranquility module to the space-facing side of the Harmony module, where it will become home for the docking adapter, which will be delivered on a future flight of a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft.

The spacewalkers also will install on the starboard zero truss a new computer relay box equipped with advanced software for the adapter.

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The second spacewalk will feature Kimbrough and Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson of NASA reconnecting cables and electrical connections on PMA-3 at its new home on top Harmony.

The final spacewalk will tentatively feature Whitson and Pesquet replacing an avionics box on the starboard truss called an ExPRESS Logistics Carrier, a storage platform, NASA said.

While Kimbrough’s two spacewalks will be the fifth and sixth of his career, Whitson will be making the eighth and ninth spacewalks of her career – more than any other female astronaut.

Pesquet will undertake the second and third spacewalks in his career. (IANS)

 

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Spacecraft Test Runs into Serious Problems, Smoke All Over SpaceX in Florida

"Ensuring that our systems meet rigorous safety standards and detecting (issues) like this prior to flight are the main reasons why we test"

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space craft
Federal oversight authorities warned NASA last year that more delays could leave US astronauts stranded if the new capsules were not ready to fly in 2019. Pixabay

Thick plumes of smoke rose over a SpaceX facility in Florida during a test fire of a Crew Dragon spacecraft and the issue was serious, it could derail plans to fly astronauts aboard the capsule later this year, the media reported.

SpaceX, which was founded by billionaire businessman Elon Musk in 2002, said the craft was undergoing a “series of engine tests” at a facility in Cape Canaveral on Saturday, and something went wrong during the final stretch, CNN reported.

SpaceX will work with NASA to determine what caused the issue. No injuries were reported.

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The US has not had the technology to fly humans to orbit since the space shuttle programme ended in 2011. Meanwhile, NASA has paid Russia about $80 million per seat to send astronauts to the International Space Station aboard Soyuz capsules. Pixabay

“Ensuring that our systems meet rigorous safety standards and detecting (issues) like this prior to flight are the main reasons why we test,” SpaceX said in a statement.

Crew Dragon is already overdue and more delays could make things tricky for NASA.

It was scheduled to conduct a key test of its emergency abort system in June. And its first crewed mission, which will carry astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, was slated for July, though NASA recently said that timeline was under review.

space craft
Federal oversight authorities warned NASA last year that more delays could leave US astronauts stranded if the new capsules were not ready to fly in 2019. Pixabay

The US has not had the technology to fly humans to orbit since the space shuttle programme ended in 2011. Meanwhile, NASA has paid Russia about $80 million per seat to send astronauts to the International Space Station aboard Soyuz capsules.

NASA has also decided to ask the private sector to design and build a new generation of spacecrafts.

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SpaceX and Boeing, which is building a vehicle called Starliner, were awarded contracts worth up to $2.6 billion and $4.2 billion, respectively, in 2014. Both capsules were supposed to start flying in 2017, but they have been hampered with delays.

Federal oversight authorities warned NASA last year that more delays could leave US astronauts stranded if the new capsules were not ready to fly in 2019. (IANS)