NASA stages spacewalk to hook up European experiment platform

Two astronauts ventured outside the International Space Station Wednesday to complete work to outfit an external European experiment platform, routing cables and installing a high-speed data relay antenna.

Floating in the Quest airlock, astronaut Mike Hopkins and crewmate Victor Glover switched their suits to battery power at 6:28 a.m. EST to officially kick off a planned six-and-a-half-hour excursion.

Hopkins is a veteran of two previous spacewalks, logging 12 hours and 58 minutes outside the lab complex during an earlier visit, while Glover is making his first spacewalk.

Astronaut Mike Hopkins makes his way to a worksite on the European Space Agency’s Columbus laboratory module where he and fellow spacewalker Victor Glover plan to attach a new data relay antenna. The astronauts also plan to connect power and data cables to a European experiment platform and make preparations for future solar array upgrades.


For identification, Hopkins, call sign EV-1, is wearing a spacesuit with red stripes and using helmet camera No. 18 while Glover, EV-2, is using an unmarked suit with helmetcam 20

After exiting the airlock, the flight plan called for Glover to attach a foot restraint to the end of the space station’s robot arm and ride the arm to the European Space Agency’s Columbus laboratory module where he and Hopkins planned to install a high-speed Ka-band data relay antenna.

Once the antenna is bolted down with power and data cables connected, the spacewalkers will work to route data cables connecting the Bartolomeo experiment platform mounted on the forward side of the Columbus module.

Bartolomeo was delivered to the station last spring aboard a SpaceX cargo ship and attached to the lab using the robot arm. The platform will be used to mount a variety of external experiment packages that can be changed out as needed for research.

“We have been preparing for the better part of a year as we awaited the arrival of the Bartolomeo platform,” said flight director Rick Henfling. “It arrived on the SpaceX CRS-20 (cargo) mission last April. It was installed robotically, and now we have a few more tasks, using our spacewalkers to hook up the power and data connections.”

With Bartolomeo finally configured for use, Glover planned to remove a protective cover from the antenna the crew installed earlier and to jettison it into space.

The astronauts then will make their way to the far left end of the station’s power truss and remove two solar array ground handling fixtures. The so-called “H fixtures” are being removed to make way for new solar panels that will be attached to the existing arrays later to boost the lab’s power output.

Hopkins and Glover plan to carry out a second spacewalk next week to remove additional H fixtures, to complete work to install a replacement solar array battery and to replace cameras on the power truss, the Destiny lab module and on a Japanese robot arm.

“We’ve been talking about this particular set of EVAs for the better part of a year,” said Kenny Todd, space station integration manager at the Johnson Space Center. “So I’m certainly ready to be done talking about them and actually go see them executed.”

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