Astronauts performing spacewalk at International Space Station

  • Astronauts performing spacewalk at International Space Station

Astronauts performing spacewalk at International Space Station

NASA Commander Randy Bresnik and Mark Vande Hei floated out Thursday morning to replace one of two Latching End Effectors (LEE) on the Canadarm2.

Russian space agency Roscosmos together with Russian news outlet RT have released a video that features two cosmonauts - Sergey Ryazansky and Fyodor Yurchikhin - performing maintenance on the International Space Station.

NASA says U.S. astronauts on the station are taking part in the walk - Expedition 53 Commander Randy Bresnik and Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei.

'That's it for all of the tender moments you'll get from me, ' Bresnik joked.

This is Randy Bresnik's third spacewalk and marks Van Hei's debut.

'Congratulations, my friend, on becoming the 221st human to exit in your own personal spacecraft into the void of space, ' said Bresnik, a veteran spacewalker. Bresnik and Vande Hei will conduct the second spacewalk together. "Happy to be doing this with you".

The Canadarm was retired in 2011 when NASA ended the space shuttle program, though the bigger Canadarm 2 remains in space as part of the International Space Station.

Once a supply vessel is in its grip, the 17 metre arm is also the channel for the ISS to supply the vessel with power and data. "We're actually very pleased that both LEEs lasted this long", he said. They are complex devices which integrate a camera, sensors, and electronics. Bresnik and Vande Hei also had time to achieve some "get ahead" tasks, including the removal of some thermal insulation blankets and preparing a spare hose for the space station's cooling system should it be needed for a future fix.

The two latching mechanisms, one on each end of the arm, have been used almost 400 times. The Canadarm2 has started experiencing some wear and tear. "It's been manifesting itself partly as increased motor currents in the mechanisms on board, and particularly the latches".

The arm can extend nearly 60ft (18 metres) into space, and can be controlled by the crew on board or those back at Houston. NASA still plans to replace the other LEE, but that will happen in January now. The faulty LEE, which eventually will be returned to Earth for repairs, was repositioned on the mobile transporter. Another fight-ready spare is available for launch as needed.

A 3D animation of the work schedule shows how the astronauts are expected to begin the spacewalk from the Quest airlock.

"On the civil side you mentioned the space station, right now we are funded, the country has funded our space station til 2024, so the question is, are we gonna go beyond that, we certified it out to 2028, so we know that it's good enough, it's safe enough to go to 2028".

The six-hour spacewalk is scheduled to begin at around 8am EDT (12:00 GMT) and is being streamed live on NASA TV.

During three spacewalks on October 5, 10 and 18, astronauts will replace an aging Latching End Effector (LEE) at the end of the Canadarm2 robotic arm. Another five days later, October 15th, Bresnik will be joined by NASA astronaut Joe Acaba for a third spacewalk on to do more lubrication and another camera replacement. All told, 127 astronauts and cosmonauts representing 10 nations have now logged 1,265 hours and 10 minutes of station EVA time, or 52.7 days.