No threat of debris, NASA resets spacewalk to replace faulty antenna
A day after NASA cleaned up a spacewalk slated to threaten astronauts with space debris, the agency scheduled it for Thursday. Astronauts Thomas Marshburn and Kayla Barron will come out of the airlock to replace a faulty antenna system on the station’s truss structure that has lost connections to Earth.
The decision to go ahead with the spacewalk on Thursday came after NASA determined that the debris orbit does not pose a risk to astronauts. “Delaying the spacewalk allowed engineers to assess the risk from the debris,” NASA said in a blog post on Wednesday.
The spacewalk was delayed on Tuesday after the US space agency received a debris notification for the International Space Station. Due to the lack of an opportunity to properly assess the risk this could pose to astronauts, it was decided to delay the spacewalk. “The space station’s schedule and operations can easily accommodate the delay in the spacewalk,” he said.
The spacewalk is required to replace an S-Band Antenna Subassembly (SASA) with a spare already available on the station’s truss structure. The antenna recently lost its ability to send signals to Earth through NASA’s data tracking and relay system.
The agency said that although its degradation had a limited impact on the operation of the station, the heads of mission decided to install a new antenna to ensure redundancy of communications.
During this time, he has kept a low profile on the nature of the debris and whether it was Russia’s anti-missile test in orbit in November of this year. Mission control was alerted that the US military’s space surveillance network had detected debris that could collide with the space station.
NASA spokesman Gary Jordan told Reuters that there was no information available on the size of the debris, its proximity to the space station, which orbit about 250 miles (402 km) above. above Earth, or if one or more objects were involved. “We have no indication that this is related” to the Russian missile test weeks earlier, Jordan added in an email to Reuters.
The International Space Station. (Photo: Nasa)
Moscow’s anti-satellite missile test sparked international outcry with countries blaming it for polluting the orbit, threatening assets such as the Space Station and astronauts.
Following the test, the astronauts had to take refuge in the Soyuz and Dragon capsule in case the debris caused an emergency. The cloud of residual debris from the blasted satellite has since dispersed, according to Dana Weigel, deputy director of the NASA space station program.
According to plans, Marshburn will work with Barron while being positioned at the end of a robotic arm operated from inside the station by German astronaut Matthias Maurer of the European Space Agency, with the help of his teammate from the Nasa Raja Chari.
The four arrived at the station on November 11 in a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, joining two Russian cosmonauts and a NASA astronaut already aboard the space lab.