There are just a few more days to go before another ESA astronaut performs an important spacewalk, and Luca Parmitano becomes the first Italian astronaut to ‘walk’ in space.
All preparatory activities for the USOS EVA#22 spacewalk of Chris Cassidy and Luca Parmitano are planned and ready to go. Karen Nyberg will support the spacewalk by carrying out a very important activity from inside the International Space Station: she will operate and manoeuvre the Canadian Robotics Arm (SSRMS), which is required to assist the two crew members while they perform their tasks outside the Station.
Before the spacewalk begins, Luca and Chris will carry out several hours of final preparation, between 07:25 GMT until the spacewalk begins at 12:40 GMT.
These activities include preparing the space suit and its life jacket. The life jacket, also called SAFER, is worn like a backpack and allows the astronaut to return to the Space Station in the event of a problem. It has 24 small nitrogen thrusters for manoeuvring and weighs around 38 kg on the ground.
When all tests are completed, the astronauts will exit the Space Station at 12:15 GMT and begin their 6-hour spacewalk.
During the spacewalk, Luca will ‘walk’ to a specific point outside the Station, where the robotic arm will be waiting for him. He will step onto a special platform called APFR – this is a foot restraint system that will allow Luca to stand on the robotic arm. Once his feet are fixed onto the arm, Karen Nyberg will move the arm to bring Luca to his next working position, where he will be moving quite fairly heavy items around. Karen Nyberg will use a sophisticated computer programme to control the movement of the robotics arm, which allows Luca to have both hands free to work.
Once the spacewalkers have finished their tasks, they will move back into the Station, finishing their long day at around 20:00 GMT. The day after the spacewalk, the two astronauts will have a quiet schedule so that they can recover from their first USOS EVA#22 and get ready for the second spacewalk, planned for mid-July.
We talked to Luca yesterday and wanted to know if he is ready. He replied, “Siamo pronti ragazzi!” [“Guys, we’re ready to go!”]. Of course, we will be following the EVA very closely next week, and will come back with some stunning pictures.