JAXA astronaut Aki Hoshide floats on the end of the station’s robotic arm on his first spacewalk (Credits: NASA).

NASA Flight Engineer Sunita Williams and JAXA Flight Engineer Akihiko Hoshide, both members of Expedition 32 on the International Space Station, carried out a spacewalk which began on Thursday 30th at 12:16 GMT and ended at 20:33 GMT. This marked the second spacewalk of the Expedition and the third longest spacewalk ever.  During the more than 8 hour extravehicular activity (EVA) the astronauts ran into some complications that prevented them from completing their full list of tasks.

“We’ve tried almost every back-up we have on this stupid bolt,” mission controllers radioed shortly after the spacewalk passed the 6.5-hour mark, referring to the replacement power module that gave the spacewalkers considerable difficulty. After removing the faulty unit, Williams and Hoshide were unable to secure the replacement unit, finally tethering it to the station for future spacewalkers to deal with.

This was the 164th EVA from the station, this time to perform a series of upgrades and maintenance to the International Space Station. It was the fifth spacewalk for the veteran spacewalker Williams and the first for Hoshide.

This was the 2nd EVA from the station in ten days, following the pair of Russians, commander Gennady Padalka and Flight Engineer Yuri Malenchenko, who worked outside the habitat on August 20th. During this second excursion, the astronauts were unable to replace a faulty power module or install a new camera on the space station’s robotic arm. They were able, however, to secure the replacement Main Bus Switching Unit for a future spacewalk and connected one of two power cables needed in preparation for a new Russian laboratory module.  Williams and Hoshide ran into trouble in driving bolts for the replacement switching unit in the s-zero truss, which resulted in the failure to replace the faulty power module. They were able to remove and store the faulty module, which should make it easier for a future spacewalk to rectify the problem.

With the second spacewalk of Expedition 32 only partially successful, NASA reports that “Flight controllers and station program officials will assess a future course of action.”


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