NASA’s second ever all-female space walk runs into trouble as astronaut’s helmet camera and lights come loose – meaning she now has to complete the mission without ‘additional protection’
- Astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch contend with loose helmet camera
- The two-woman team is installing lithium-ion batteries on the station’s exterior
- Koch and Meir performed the last all-female space walk in October last year
The two female NASA astronauts who made history by carrying out the first all-woman spacewalk in October ran into helmet troubles on their second venture outside the ISS.
Jessica Meir and Christina Koch ventured out into space on Wednesday to finish upgrades to the space station’s power grid.
However, the women were barely a half-hour into the spacewalk when Koch’s helmet camera and lights came loose.
Meir tried to get the camera and light attachment back onto Koch’s helmet, but could not get it into the proper grooves.
The loose helmet camera on her spacesuit was eventually stowed in a crew lock bag, and the two astronauts continued with their tasks.
The history-makers are currently installing new lithium-ion batteries on the station’s exterior structure, replacing older nickel-hydrogen batteries.
In this image taken from NASA video Jessica Meir works to finish upgrading the International Space Station’s power grid
Shortly after the mission started at 6:35am ET (11:35am GMT) Meir and mission controllers on the ground had to assist Koch with the loose fitting.
Mission Control advised the women to remove the hood-like camera and light assembly completely, rather than waste any more time trying to attach it.
The astronauts asked if the six-and-a-half-hour spacewalk would continue, given the lack of lighting for Koch.
‘Good question and, yes, we will continue and we’ll try to keep you two together as much as possible,’ Mission Control replied.
The astronauts were relieved at the news – ‘Great. Perfect,’ they radioed.
‘Just be careful,’ Mission Control urged Koch. ‘You’re missing that additional protection.’
The hand of NASA astronaut Jessica Meir can be seen at the right of this image holding the helmet of fellow astronaut Christina Koch in place as they work to finish upgrades to the International Space Station’s power grid
Meir and Koch are still in the process of replacing the batteries outside the sprawling space station.
The batteries are part of the station’s solar power network, keeping everything running when the outpost is on the night side of Earth.
Despite the hitch, the two women are enjoying a view 261 miles above the Indian Ocean off the coast of eastern Africa.
Koch also went out with a male colleague twice last October to install three new batteries.
But a charging unit then failed, prompting the need for unexpected repairs by Koch and Meir.
NASA is in the midst of replacing decades-old nickel-hydrogen batteries outside the sprawling space station with more powerful, longer-lasting lithium-ion batteries
The rest of the critical battery installations were put on hold while engineers figured out why the charger failed so soon after new batteries went in.
Engineers now believe the charger got too cold in the extreme temperatures of space.
The solution has been to expose the chargers to the sun as much as possible during the battery work.
NASA astronauts Christina Koch (left) and Jessica Meir (right) ventured outside the International Space Station in October to replace a failed power controller unit in the first all-woman spacewalk
Mission Control expects Meir and Koch to replace three more of the old batteries, with the operation wrapping up during a third all-female spacewalk on Monday.
That would make a total of five spacewalks in this latest series of battery work.
Koch is just three weeks away from ending an 11-month space mission, the longest ever by a woman.
She’s been living 250 miles (400 kilometres) above Earth since last March, while Meir arrived at the space station in September.
In a more than seven-hour mission outside of the International Space Station, Koch (right) and Meir successfully completed their goal of fixing a broken power controller that supplemented its solar network
Source: Read Full Article