Crew preps for spacewalk; advisory council warns of gap in ISS access

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#Spacewalk #ISSCrew preps for spacewalk; advisory council warns of gap in ISS access : With SpaceX’s Dragon cargo ship securely attached to the International Space Station (ISS), and cargo being transferred, two members Expedition 48 are gearing up for a spacewalk, set for August 19. The spacewalk will see the installation of the International Docking Adapter (IDA).

Additionally, on August 4, Expedition 48 Commander Jeff Williams celebrated his 500th cumulative day in space over four missions. He is set to break Scott Kelly’s record of 520 days by August 24. By the time Williams returns to Earth on Sept. 6, he will have accumulated more than 533 days off the planet.

The CRS-9 Dragon is berthed to the Earth-facing port of Harmony. The International Docking Adapter is located inside the trunk. Photo Credit: NASA

The CRS-9 Dragon is berthed to the Earth-facing port of Harmony. The International Docking Adapter is located inside the trunk. Photo Credit: NASA

Rubins will perform an Extravehicular Activity (EVA) to install IDA-2. Once complete, the station will be able to receive commercial crew vehicles such as SpaceX’s Crew Dragon and Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner.

Suit preparation began early last week when a new spacesuit was unloaded from inside Dragon. Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) 3006 was removed from the spacecraft and taken inside the ISS for on-orbit operations.

This suit, however, will not be used in the mid-August spacewalk as it is being checked out as a viable spare. The previous spare suit, 3005, is being returned to Earth inside the CRS-9 capsule.

On July 27, the station’s robotic Canadarm2 was commanded to ungrapple from CRS-9, where it had been since Dragon’s arrival, and move its Latch End Effector (LEE) to the Pressurized Mating Adapter 2 (PMA-2) in order to inspect the docking port. This location is where IDA-2 will be installed.

Astronaut Kate Rubins inspects the two suits that will be used in EVA-36. Photo Credit: NASA

Astronaut Kate Rubins inspects the two suits that will be used in EVA-36. Photo Credit: NASA

With PMA-2 inspections complete, a “go” was given for IDA installation. The arm’s LEE was then moved to Dragon’s trunk in a pre-grapple position in advance of IDA installation.

July 28 saw the crew resize EMA 3003 and 3008 to fit Williams and Kate, respectively. Each EMU is modular and can be adjusted for an individual astronaut in order for them to fit securely. It is necessary to do this prior to an EVA because astronauts’ bodies stretch in space. This is due the lack of gravity compression on the spine.