NASA issues new days for upcoming ISS spacewalks
NASA has released new dates for three planned spacewalks that are now scheduled to take place on Saturday, Feb. 21; Wednesday, Feb. 25; and Sunday, March 1. These extra-vehicular activities or “EVAs” are being conducted to prepare the International Space Station (ISS ) for the inclusion of new docking ports that will greet planned U.S. commercial spacecraft that are scheduled to take to the skies as soon as 2017.
On Thursday, Feb. 19, managers who handle station operations decided to move the first two of the three planned spacewalks one day each to provide a better analysis of the spacesuits that Expedition 42 Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Flight Engineer Terry Virts will be wearing.
The International Docking Adapters, constructed by Boeing under contract from NASA, are pivotal if NASA’s current plan to send crews to the ISS via commercially provided spacecraft such as Boeing’s CST-100 and SpaceX’s Dragon V2 is to succeed. The space station’s new configuration of docking ports is being reworked to allow both these craft as well as the assorted international cargo vessels that travel to the orbiting lab to be able to dock there.
If everything continues to go as planned, the station’s compliment could increase from the current number of six — to seven. NASA has stated that this could as much as double the amount of “devoted” research that is carried out aboard the station.
Two SpaceX Dragon V1 spacecraft arrive later in 2015. After their arrival, crew on board the ISS will then install the first of these two devices on the Pressurized Mating Adapter-2 on the forward end of the station’s Harmony module. The second will be attached to the Pressurized Mating Adapter-3 after it is relocated robotically to the space-facing port of Harmony later this year.
These EVAs will mark the 185-187 times that crew onboard the ISS have taken a walk outside to conduct repairs or upgrades to the outpost. While this won’t be Wilmore’s first spacewalk, it will be the first for Virts (Wilmore’s first EVA took place this past October).
Wilmore will be designated extravehicular (EV) crew member 1 and wear a spacesuit bearing red stripes for the first two spacewalks. On the third EVA, Virts will assume this role with Virts as EV 1 wearing red stripes, and Wilmore as EV 2 wearing a suit without stripes.
NASA Television coverage for all three excursions will begin at 6 a.m. EST. The spacewalks are planned to begin each day around 7:10 a.m.
Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.