Watch Live as Astronauts Fix a Robotic Arm on the ISS

Delia Watkins
October 6, 2017

Two Nasa astronauts wrapped up a successful spacewalk on Thursday (Oct 5) to fix the International Space Station's (ISS') ageing robotic arm, the USA space agency said.

NASA has scheduled three spacewalks at the International Space Station this month to perform station maintenance. The astronauts onboard the mission are Expedition 53 Commander Randy Bresnik and Mark Van Hei.

The astronauts will be working on a newly replaced robotic arm called "Canadarm2" and will be replacing cameras outside the station's U.S. Destiny laboratory.

Canadarm2 riding the Mobile Base System along the Mobile Transporter railway, running the length of the station's main truss.

This came as no surprise, however, as the two LEEs on Canadarm2 have already exceeded their life expectancy, said Tim Braithwaite, the ISS program liaison for the Canadian Space Agency.

A few moments later, Vande Hei, making his first spacewalk, made his way outside.

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"It's more gorgeous and heavenly than I saw when I was out here eight years ago", Bresnik, a spacewalk veteran, marveled as he floated out of the airlock 250 miles above Africa. The LEEs, located at either end of the arm, also provide other crucial data through complex electronics, camera and sensors, NASA officials said, but the arm was launched over 15 years ago and is in need of fix. To tell the two apart during the webcast, look for the red stripes on Bresnik's suit.

One LEE typically is used to anchor the arm at various attachment points on the lab complex while the LEE at the other end is used to lock onto and move visiting spacecraft or other large components.

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This will be Randy Bresnik's third spacewalk and will mark Van Hei's debut. The malfunction hasn't impacted any operations, but it needs to be replaced.

The second and third spacewalks will concentrate on the lubrication of the LEE and the installation of a pair of external cameras.

The station has a spare LEE stored outside the ISS, which the astronauts retrieved to make the fix.

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