Citing risk of debris, NASA delays spacewalk to repair space station antenna – .

Citing risk of debris, NASA delays spacewalk to repair space station antenna – .

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A spacewalk scheduled for Tuesday to repair a faulty antenna on the International Space Station has been postponed indefinitely, NASA said, citing a “debris notification” it received for the orbiting research lab.

Two US astronauts were to venture outside the space station at 7:10 a.m. EST (12:10 GMT) to begin their work, in the face of what NASA officials called a slightly elevated risk posed by the debris of a Russian anti-satellite missile test this month.

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But about five hours before the outing began, NASA said on Twitter that the spacewalk had been canceled for the time being.

“NASA has received a debris notification for the space station. Due to the lack of an opportunity to properly assess the risk this could pose to astronauts, the teams decided to delay the November 30 spacewalk until more information is available, ”tweeted the space agency.

It was not specified how close the debris had approached the space station, orbiting about 250 miles (402 km) above Earth, or if this was related to the Russian missile test.

NASA TV had planned to provide live coverage of the 6.5-hour “extravehicular activity” or EVA, operated by astronauts Thomas Marshburn and Kayla Brown. The exit would be the fifth spacewalk for Marshburn, 61, a medical doctor and former air surgeon with two previous trips to orbit, and the first for Barron, 34, a U.S. Navy submarine officer and engineer nuclear during its first space flight for NASA.

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The goal is to remove a defective S-band radio antenna set, which is now over 20 years old, and replace it with a new spare part stored outside the space station.

According to the plans, Marshburn should have worked with Barron as he was positioned at the end of a robotic arm operated from inside the station by German astronaut Matthias Maurer of the European Space Agency, with assistance from his NASA teammate Raja Chari.

The four arrived at the space station on November 11 in a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Joining two Russian cosmonauts and a NASA astronaut already aboard the outpost in orbit.

Four days later, an anti-satellite missile test conducted without warning by Russia generated a field of debris in low earth orbit, and the seven crew members took refuge in their docked spacecraft to allow a quick jaunt to ‘that the immediate danger has passed, according to Nasa.

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The cloud of residual debris from the blasted satellite has since dispersed, according to Dana Weigel, NASA’s deputy director of the International Space Station (ISS) program.

But NASA calculated that the remaining fragments continued to pose a “slightly high” background risk to the space station as a whole, and a 7% higher risk of puncturing the astronauts’ suits, compared to before the missile test. Russian, Weigel told reporters on Monday. .

While NASA has yet to fully quantify the additional dangers posed by the more than 1,700 larger fragments it tracks around the station’s orbit, the 7% higher risk for space walkers is ‘fits “well with” fluctuations previously observed in “the natural environment,” Weigel said.

Still, mission leaders canceled several small maintenance tasks planned for Tuesday’s spacewalk, Weigel added. (By Steve Gorman. Editing by Gerry Doyle)


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