Two US astronauts have successfully completed Tuesday what NASA calls a “space path” critical to repairing failed equipment that helps supply the International Space Station.
“We have declared victory,” said Rob Navias, the NASA commentator, about two hours’ walk from the emergency by space station chief Peggy Whitson, 57, and flight engineer Jack Fischer, 43 years.
The reason for the trip was the sudden Saturday breakup of a computer relay box known as a multiplexer-demultiplexer (MDM) unit. MDM – about the size of a small microwave oven and weighing 50 pounds (23 kilogrammes) on Earth – helps to use solar power, power generation and robotic equipment to the ISS.
It also regulates the operation of radiators and cooling circuits. Since there are two MDMs in the orbit, the loss of one does not affect the life of the crew or impede the operation of the station.
However, a spokesman for the space agency has described Tuesday’s mission as a “critical contingency space bridge” and qualified as “high priority” to replace the failed box when the spacewalk more possible.Durant shorter than normal – Which lasted only two hours and 46 minutes and much less than the typical 6.5 hours – Whitson took the initiative and replaced the MDM.
After removing the malfunctioning unit, he saw a few flakes of debris and returned briefly to the airlock for the equipment to be cleaned before installing the new box.
“We now have two healthy MDMs,” Navias said afterwards.
Fischer, making the second space stage of his career, have installed a pair of antennas in the US laboratory module Destiny to improve wireless communication capability for future space routes.