Astronauts Joe Acaba and Randy Bresnik completed the third of three October spacewalks on Friday, concluding ongoing repairs to the International Space Station’s Canadarm-2 robotic arm. Although the team finished every objective set before them, Acaba coped with a multitude of spacesuit technical difficulties that nearly cut things short.
Image Credit: NASA
All astronauts’ spacesuits ship with safety gear, including jetpacks and steel tether cables. Together, these prevent an astronaut from straying too far from the International Space Station and becoming lost. Acaba, on the other hand, couldn’t seem to catch a break from faults with said safety equipment.
As he performed the maintenance, the team noticed “wear and tear” on the steel tether cable; more specifically, it seemed to be fraying. Mission Control, worried for Acaba’s safety, told him to stay put where he was while Bresnik retrieved a replacement.
After exchanging the faulty tether cable with a new one, Acaba returned to work. Shortly after, another issue presented itself: one of the handles on Acaba’s jetpack appeared stuck in the open position.
After trying to finagle the handle into cooperation to no avail, Mission Control realized the danger of the situation and ordered Acaba back to the safety of the International Space Station once the task at hand was complete.
Despite the complications, the two-man team completed all tasks for the Canadarm-2 successfully. Each of them re-entered the International Space Station following a seven-hour-long spacewalk, marking Acaba’s third and Bresnik’s fifth.
Friday's spacewalk enabled Acaba and Bresnik to replace a fuzzy camera situated near Canadarm-2, and they also performed general maintenance (such as lubricating the arm's joints). NASA shared some of the first views from the new "enhanced high-definition" camera that Acaba installed on Twitter, underscoring how much clearer the footage is after the upgrade:
Their combined work ensures that Canadarm-2 will be operational for future resupply missions, as the arm frequently assists space capsules in docking with the International Space Station. With a resupply mission planned just a few weeks from now, their timeliness couldn’t have been better.