Astronauts upgrade Columbus laboratory during spacewalk

Expedition 64 Flight Engineers and NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover conducted a spacewalk… The post Astronauts upgrade Columbus laboratory during spacewalk appeared first on

Astronauts upgrade Columbus laboratory during spacewalk

Expedition 64 Flight Engineers and NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover conducted a spacewalk on Wednesday, tasked with setting up a cable and antenna for the “Bartolomeo” payloads platform, configuring a Ka-band terminal for linkage to European ground stations and removing grapple fixture brackets in preparation for future power system upgrades. EVA-69 began at approximately 06:30 EST (11:30 UTC) and lasted seven hours.

This EVA (extravehicular activity) was the third for Hopkins in his NASA career and the first for Glover. Hopkins was extravehicular crew member one (EV-1) donning EMU 3006, which featured red stripes. Glover (EV-2) wore EMU 3009 (sans stripes) during the excursion.

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  • Following hatch open and egress from the Quest airlock, Hopkins began translating to the Columbus module in preparation for the start of the day’s tasks. At the same time, Glover ingressed the Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSMRS) – also known as Canadarm2 – and move to the worksite.

    The first order of business for the two American astronauts was installing the Columbus Ka-band terminal (ColKa) on the exterior of the European laboratory module.

    This involved removing and reinstallation of four bolts from the module’s exterior panels to allow for the placement of the terminal, and the routing of external wiring for power to the antenna.

    This Ka-band antenna will link the module to the EDRS (European Data Relay System) network of satellites in geostationary orbit, thereby enabling faster uplink and downlink speeds between the European segment of the International Space Station and researchers on the ground.

    ColKa will provide downlink speeds of up to 50 megabits per second and uplink speeds of up to 2 megabits per second. This will enable improved communications and data links in support of experiments being conducted in the orbital laboratory.

    The antenna was designed and built by British, Italian, Belgian, Canadian, French, German, and Norwegian companies. Some components used for the system were qualified by the European Space Agency‘s Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) program, and experience from ColKa will inform future development of the Lunar Gateway station.

    ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen installs the ColKa terminal during a dress rehearsal in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, in 2018 – via ESA

    European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Andreas Mogensen assisted Hopkins and Glover with the installation of the refrigerator-sized terminal by providing radio instructions from NASA’s Mission Control Center in Houston, Texas.

    The next step for the crew was to release several clamps on the European Bartolomeo science payload platform holding lengths of cabling in place. Once the clamps were released, the cables were routed and installed on separate locations on the Columbus module, which will activate the Bartolomeo platform and its communications antenna. The connectors proved to be an issue during the first part of the EVA, before good heater power was confirmed.

    Bartolomeo was delivered to the Station via a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft in March 2020 and installed on the external forward side of the Columbus module the following month. Once online, Bartolomeo will house several commercial payloads externally for data collection.

    Once the cable and antenna configuration was complete, Hopkins and Glover returned to the ColKa terminal and removed a cover, meant to protect the antenna inside during installation. This cover was then be jettisoned overboard by Glover while on the SSMRS, as it was no longer needed.

    The two astronauts returned to the Quest airlock to reconfigure their toolbags in preparation for the third and final task of the EVA, which involved the removal of grapple fixture brackets on the Station’s P6 (far port) truss. This will allow for the installation of future upgrades to the orbiting outpost’s solar arrays.

    Following their removal, the fixture brackets were placed inside the astronauts’ toolbags and taken back inside the Station following the completion of the EVA.

    Upon completion of the EVA, the crew returned once more to the Quest airlock, ingress, and doffed their suits.

    Victor Glover (left) and Michael Hopkins (right) in front of a SpaceX Crew Dragon mockup at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Glover and Hopkins launched on the SpaceX Crew-1 mission and will complete a pair of spacewalks before returning to Earth. – via NASA

    EVA-69 was the first in a pair of spacewalks that Hopkins and Glover will perform in the space of five days, with EVA-70 set to take place on February 1. During EVA-70, Hopkins and Glover will install a lithium-ion battery adapter plate and replace/install cameras on the Station’s starboard truss and Destiny modules, respectively.

    EVA-69 and 70 are the first two spacewalks conducted by astronauts launched on a commercial spacecraft, with both crew members having launched aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon. They are the 233rd and 234th spacewalks in support of the International Space Station program.

    These two spacewalks are scheduled to be followed by two other EVAs in the near future. During the third spacewalk, Glover and fellow NASA astronaut Kate Rubins will work outside the ISS to prepare its power system to install six new solar arrays built by Deployable Space Systems and provided by Boeing. These panels will be transported to the station via three SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicles and installed on later EVAs.

    Rubins and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi will continue upgrading Station components and performing maintenance for the fourth upcoming spacewalk. The dates for the third and fourth EVAs will be set at a later time.

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    Source : NASA More