Two NASA astronauts left the safety of the International Space Station on Wednesday to perform an extra-vehicular activity (EVA) – or more colloquially known as a spacewalk mission.
Flight engineers Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold, both part of Expedition 55, performed critical upgrades and necessary maintenance during their 6.5-hour endeavor.
Image Credit: NASA TV
The two spacemen exited the International Space Station at approximately 8:10 A.M. Eastern time to swap various cooling system components around and to install new cameras and communication equipment that will help facilitate future spacecraft dockings.
In regards to the cooling system, the International Space Station sported a few malfunctioning coolant pumps. Fortunately, a spare arrived at the space station last month, and it has been ready to install ever since.
"We've been doing a ton of work to play musical chairs with all these (pumps) so we can have good available spares," said Alex Apyan, one of NASA’s flight controllers from Houston, during the live stream of the spacewalk.
The new cameras and communication equipment, on the other hand, are particularly crucial for upcoming commercial crewed missions by way of Boeing and SpaceX. These upgrades will be necessary for when Boeing and SpaceX eventually tackle the long-term goal of sending astronauts to the International Space Station from American soil.
Wednesday’s EVA marked the 210th spacewalk mission since the International Space Station got put into service in 1998. Notably, it was Feustel’s eighth spacewalk and Arnold’s fourth.
It was the second time that both Feustel and Arnold cooperated during a spacewalk mission, but it won’t be the last. NASA says the two will perform yet another spacewalk on June 14th to install brackets and more cameras for facilitating future spacecraft docking attempts.