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NASA prepares for ISS spacewalks and seeks input on lunar spacesuits

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WASHINGTON — As NASA gears up for a prolonged collection of spacewalks to carry out repairs on the Worldwide Area Station, the company is looking for enter on plans to provide a brand new technology of spacesuits wanted for the moon.

At an Oct. four briefing, NASA officers outlined plans to conduct 10 spacewalks exterior the ISS over the following two to 3 months. The primary 5 will likely be dedicated to the substitute of batteries for the station’s energy provide, whereas the second 5 will likely be used to restore the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer instrument on the station’s exterior.

“It’s actually thrilling and extremely technically difficult,” Kirk Shireman, NASA ISS program supervisor, stated on the briefing on the Johnson Area Middle. “All that’s going to occur over the following two or three months.”

The spacewalks will start Oct. 6, with astronauts Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan starting the method of changing nickel-hydrogen batteries on the far finish of the station’s truss with lithium-ion batteries delivered to the station on a Japanese HTV cargo spacecraft final month.

4 extra spacewalks are deliberate, at present scheduled for Oct. 11, 16, 21 and 25. Koch and Morgan will share the spacewalking duties with Jessica Meir and Luca Parmitano. One of many spacewalks, Oct. 21, will function Koch and Meir, making it the primary all-female spacewalk within the company’s historical past.

NASA had planned to perform an all-female spacewalk in March that includes Koch and Anne McClain, however modified the lineup after McClain determined she could be extra snug in a medium-sized go well with, fairly than a bigger go well with as beforehand deliberate. With just one medium-sized go well with prepared to be used on the station on the time, NASA reshuffled spacewalk assignments.

This time, the fits are able to help the spacewalks. Megan McArthur, deputy chief of the astronaut workplace, stated on the briefing that each one 4 astronauts are certified for the battery substitute spacewalks, permitting station officers to combine up crews. Koch and Morgan will do the primary two, she stated, “as a result of Christina has executed related work and been really to this worksite.”

In an interview from the station earlier within the week, Koch and Meir stated they had been conscious it might be potential for the 2 of them to be assigned to the identical spacewalk, though no formal choices had been made at the moment. “What we’re doing now exhibits all the work that went in to the many years prior, all the ladies that labored to get us the place we’re at this time,” Meir stated. “It’s very nice to see how far that we’ve come.”

The second set of spacewalks, anticipated to start in early November, will likely be totally different. All 5 will likely be executed by Morgan and Parmitano as a result of the work to restore the AMS requires particular expertise versus the extra generic coaching that features actions like battery replacements.

“The instrument wasn’t designed to be repaired in house, so distinctive instruments needed to be developed, distinctive procedures,” McArthur stated. “We needed to make our greatest guess of when the sequence of spacewalks would occur after which look to see which crews had time obtainable of their floor coaching to present them that specialised coaching.”

The AMS, put in on the station on one of many closing shuttle missions in 2011, has suffered the failure of all however one of many pumps in its cooling system, with that final working pump “exhibiting the attribute signature of failure,” Shireman stated.

Throughout the spacewalks, Morgan and Parmitano will set up a brand new set of pumps and replenish its liquid carbon dioxide coolant, a course of that will likely be complicated because the AMS was by no means designed to be repaired in house. “Luca and Drew have been coaching extensively,” Shireman stated. “Will probably be probably the most difficult set of EVAs I feel we’ve ever executed.”

These spacewalks will likely be executed with a set of spacesuits generally known as Extravehicular Mobility Items, or EMUs. NASA is within the technique of creating a brand new model of the go well with, the Exploration Extravehicular Exercise Mobility Unit or xEMU, supposed to be used on future lunar touchdown missions, addressing a priority highlighted by exterior consultants, together with the company’s personal Aerospace Security Advisory Panel in its latest conferences.

NASA issued a request for information Oct. four looking for enter from business on how you can manufacture the fits. NASA plans to develop preliminary xEMU fashions, together with one which will likely be flown to the station for a 2023 take a look at and the 2 that will likely be used on the Artemis three lunar touchdown mission in 2024. After that, NASA proposes to have business construct the fits, a course of that would begin as quickly as late 2020, as soon as the xEMU completes its essential design evaluate.

The request for data seeks enter on each spacesuit manufacturing in addition to potential upgrades or different enhancements to the go well with, with responses due Nov. four.

“With the assistance of companions from business and academia, we’ve developed a collection of superior spacesuit parts in preparation for missions to distant locations,” stated Marshall Smith, director of the Human Lunar Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters, in an company assertion. “With the enhancements to the fits for Artemis missions, astronauts can now open up new potentialities for science and exploration on the moon.”

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