Astronauts prepare for record-setting spacewalk

 作者:潘署钅     |      日期:2017-12-22 07:02:05
By Kelly Young (Image: NASA) (Image: NASA) Two residents of the International Space Station (ISS) will venture outside their home on Thursday to try to jam a stuck antenna on a docked cargo ship back into place. The spacewalk – which will set a US record for one of the astronauts – should prevent the antenna from getting snagged and potentially causing the cargo ship to veer out of control when the ship departs the station in April. The Kurs antenna, which helps the Russian Progress cargo ship automatically dock, did not retract properly when the Progress docked with the ISS in October 2006 (see Cargo ship hits snag docking to space station). Although it initially appeared the antenna had retracted properly, further inspections showed it had not. Progress ships typically undock and burn up in the atmosphere after the astronauts have stuffed them full of trash. This Progress is expected to leave the ISS sometime in April. “In order to be able to do this safely, we need to get that antenna retracted and up out of the way,” says NASA ISS flight director Rick LaBrode. NASA and Russian officials are concerned that if the Progress undocks with the antenna in its current position, the antenna could snag on handrails outside the ISS, and the cargo ship could possibly veer out of control. Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin and US astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria tried to yank the antenna free on a spacewalk in November but were unsuccessful. Russian flight controllers were also unable to fold the antenna back remotely. On Thursday, Tyurin and Lopez-Alegria will first use a hammer and a chisel to try to pound the antenna into place. If that does not work, they will try to cut two of the four metal struts that hold the antenna in place. If the antenna still does not lay back against the Progress, they could cut the remaining two struts, which resemble the poles used in tents, and then release the antenna into space. Lopez-Alegria has already spent more than 61 hours spacewalking during his astronaut career. This spacewalk, his 10th, should add about six more hours to his total – making him the US astronaut with the most spacewalks performed and the most total time spent walking in space. Only Russian cosmonaut Anatoly Solovyov has spent more time outside the hatch, racking up 82 hours of spacewalking time. “I’m glad it’s him,” US astronaut Jim Reilly told New Scientist. Reilly is preparing to make his third shuttle flight – and his fourth and fifth spacewalks – in March. “He’s been working his tail off for this mission he’s flying now.” On Tuesday, Tyurin and Lopez-Alegria were set to make a dress rehearsal of their spacewalk,