NASA astronauts replace defective space station antenna during spacewalk – .

NASA astronauts replace defective space station antenna during spacewalk – .

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Two NASA astronauts conducted a 6.5-hour spacewalk on Thursday to replace a faulty antenna on the International Space Station, a mission NASA said carried a slightly higher risk posed by the orbital debris left behind. by a Russian missile test weeks ago.

Astronauts Thomas Marshburn and Kayla Barron exited a research lab airlock into orbit some 250 miles (400 km) above Earth to begin their work at 6:15 a.m. Eastern Time (11:15 GMT), a hour before the scheduled date.

The “extra-vehicular activity” (EVA) followed a 48-hour delay caused by a separate orbital debris alert – believed to be the first such report in more than two decades of the space station’s history – which NASA subsequently deemed inconsequential.

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The origin of the newly detected debris has not been elucidated by NASA. A spokesperson said there was no indication that it came from fragments of the defunct satellite which Russia shattered -outer-space-2021- 11-15 with a missile test last month.

Thursday’s outing was the fifth spacewalk for Marshburn, 61, a medic and former air surgeon with two previous trips to orbit, and a first for Barron, 34, a U.S. Navy submarine officer and nuclear engineer on his first space flight for NASA.

“It was awesome,” Barron told Marshburn afterward.

During the spacewalk, they removed a faulty S-band radio communications antenna, over 20 years old, and replaced it with a spare stored outside the space station.

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The space station has other antennas that can perform the same functions, but installing a replacement system ensures an ideal level of communications redundancy, NASA said.

Marshburn worked with Barron as he was positioned at the end of a robotic arm maneuvered from within by German astronaut Matthias Maurer of the European Space Agency, with the help of his NASA teammate Raja Chari.

The four arrived at the space station on November 11 in a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, joining two Russian cosmonauts and NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei, 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, forcing the seven ISS crew members to take refuge in their docked spacecraft to allow a quick jaunt until immediate danger has passed, NASA says.

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

NASA has calculated that the remaining fragments continue 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.

NASA determined that these risk levels were within an acceptable range and continued preparations for a spacewalk on Tuesday as originally planned, only for mission control to delay the EVA mission a few hours before it began.

The operation was postponed after NASA received a notice from U.S. military space trackers warning of a newly detected debris collision threat. NASA later concluded that there was no risk to the astronauts or the station after all, and the antenna replacement was postponed until Thursday morning.

Thursday’s exercise marked the 245th spacewalk in support of space station assembly and maintenance, and the first on record delayed due to a debris alert, the door said. – NASA speech, Gary Jordan. (Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles and Brendan O’Brien in Chicago; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Rosalba O’Brien)


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