International Space Station Commander Sunita Williams and Flight Engineer Aki Hoshide successfully completed a 6 hour 38 minutes spacewalk on November 1.
“Suni and Aki, heartfelt congratulations to you,” said NASA astronaut Mike Fincke, who helped walk the astronauts through their tasks from mission control about five hours into the extravehicular activity (EVA). “We accomplished just about everything we set out to do today.”
The primary purpose of the EVA was to reroute Ammonia coolant around what is presumed to be a leaky radiator. The leak was first noticed in 2007, but had recently become so big that the station’s operation could have been threatened by overheating if the problem wasn’t addressed. Officials aren’t sure that the radiator is the culprit, but suspect that the proturbant unit may have been damaged by micrometeorite. The spacewalkers rerouted to a spare radiator on today’s EVA, and it will soon be seen whether the leak has been eliminated.
This was the third EVA for Williams and Hoshide on this trip. Williams is now in fifth place for most EVA time with 50 hours and 40 minutes and even EVA novice Hoshide has wracked up 21 hours and 23 minutes, making him the EVA time record holder among Japanese astronauts. In total, 44 days have been spent on ISS EVAs over the course of 166 spacewalks.
Thursday’s EVA was not delayed by the pending approach of a piece of Iridium 33 that prompted an avoidance maneuver shortly after the October 31 arrival of Progress M-17M. The maneuver didn’t quite come off as planned, with only thrusters from one manifold firing instead of two due to a software issue. Only 72% of the boost was accomplished, but it was deemed sufficient to reduce the likelihood of collision to acceptable levels for the EVA to proceed. The piece of debris would have made six close approaches beginning Thursday at 1:20 UTC.
Below, preparation for and exerpts from Thursday’s spacewalk: