Space Station Sunday: Spacewalk On The Wild Side

Good evening, space fans!  What a successful week for space station stories...

All good in the orbital hood.
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This week, to complete work initiated during last week's spacewalk, ISS Commander Butch Wilmore and Flight Engineer Terry Virts made two more spacewalks (also known as EVAs or "extravehicular activities") with resounding success.

They're so good at this, they can do it upside down.
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The spacewalk conducted on Wednesday, which was the second of three, had astronauts Wilmore and Virts routing more cable outside the ISS, as well as lubricating the Canadarm2, which is an important robotic "grabber" mechanism for docking spacecraft upon arrival to the ISS.  ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti "choreographed" the EVA and operated the Canadarm2 from inside the station.

At the end of the EVA, during "repress" (the repressurization of the airlock), a small quantity of water was found inside Virts' space helmet.  According to NASA, the 15 mL of water was suspected to be the result of “sublimator water carryover”, where a small amount of residual water in the sublimator cooling component can condense during the repress process.  NASA's lead EVA officer Alex Kanelakos explained that up to 50 mL of water can accrue in this manner, and that it was not a danger to Virts or to the equipment in his spacesuit.

Flight Engineer and 3-time spacewalker Terry Virts is totally down with being this far up.
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Today's spacewalk, concluded at 12:30 pm EST, had Commander Wilmore and astronaut Virts complete the installation of 400 feet of cable, as well as antennae to be used for the Common Communications for Visiting Vehicles system (C2V2.) This system will be used to communicate with both the SpaceX Dragon crew capsule and the Boeing CST-100 crew transportation capsule during future docking rendezvous with the ISS.

"Trick or treat!"  Astronaut Virts at the Quest airlock.
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Today's 5 hour, 38 minute spacewalk was the fourth for Wilmore and the third for Virts (who has undertaken all three of those missions in only the last two weeks...well done!)  This was the highest number of consecutive EVAs completed in a short time since the usage of the space shuttle to the ISS was in effect.  Overall since its construction, ISS astronauts have spent 1,171 hours and 29 minutes conducting space station assembly and maintenance over the course of 187 spacewalks.

Walk like a {space}man:  
"The Cable Guys" Wilmore and Virts pose with their spacesuits before heading outside for round 3.
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On Saturday, Virts made a special tribute to deceased "Star Trek" star Leonard Nimoy as the ISS passed over Boston, which was Nimoy's birthplace.  The ever-logical character of Spock was respected by many NASA astronauts, particularly for his intelligent sayings such as, "Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end."

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In other news inside the ISS, the "Drain Brain" study got some new data this week from ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti.  The experiment analyzes the nature of blood flow between the brain and the heart in micro-gravity, which could lead to a better understanding of neurological issues (such as unexplained headaches) experienced by astronauts.  The tool used to conduct the experiment is also of use back on the homeplanet, where it can monitor various cardiovascular and neurological issues for patients in regular earth gravity.

Stay tuned for some significant space spectacularity coming up soon...on March 27th, the One Year Crew of Expedition 43 will launch from the Baikonur Kosmodrome in Kazahkstan.  NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko will proceed to spend an entire year on the ISS, which will yield an unprecedented amount of information about extended spaceflight's effects on the human body.  

We can't wait to find out what will be learned!  Stick around, Earthlings, and watch this space! 

Astronaut Terry Virts, walking on sunshine during his first spacewalk this week.
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