International Space Station astronauts conducted the 200th American spacewalk on Friday to perform repairs and general maintenance on the space lab floating almost 250 miles above the Earth’s surface.
The two astronauts lucky enough to wander outside of the International Space Station were Peggy Whitson, who recently passed the record for the most days in space for an American astronaut, and Jack Fischer.
Image Credit: NASA TV
For what it’s worth, this was Fischer’s first spacewalk, but Whitson currently holds the record for the most spacewalks of an American woman in addition to the aforementioned record she holds; quite impressive!
The spacewalk was originally delayed for a few hours due to difficulties with the space suit umbilical cord system, but once dealt with, the spacewalk was initiated at about 9:08 A.M. EDT and the astronauts spent a few hours outside of the International Space Station.
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The umbilical cord system, which was necessary for electrical power and cooling for the astronauts, was apparently leaking water just before the spacewalk was scheduled to take place. The astronauts were forced to use their suits’ internal battery power instead as a result.
If this sounds familiar, it's because previous International Space Station spacewalks have also been met with delays and issues related to water leaks.
The main goal of the maneuver was to replace an avionics box that supplies power to the International Space Station’s experiments and to prepare one of the International Space Station’s docking ports for future use with SpaceX and Boeing spacecraft. The replacement box arrived on a recent cargo ship for the International Space Station.
Replacing the box was reportedly a quick process, however while they were out there, they also fixed a piece of loose-fitting insulation onboard the Japanese robotic arm and worked on some data connectors for some of the outside scientific experiments.
While most of the objectives were completed during the spacewalk, there wasn’t quite enough time to complete all of them. Limited by battery power, the spacewalk was cut short at around 1:21 A.M. EDT – coming in at just over four hours. Another spacewalk will have to be conducted at a future date to finish the rest of the work.
The International Space Station is expected to remain in service until 2024, after which NASA will either decommission the floating space lab or pass it on to commercial or private researchers.