NASA moves up 1st all-female spacewalk to fix power unit

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA is transferring up the primary all-female spacewalk to this week due to an influence system failure on the Worldwide Area Station.

Astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir will now enterprise out Thursday or Friday, as a substitute of subsequent Monday, to take care of the issue. Will probably be the primary spacewalk by solely girls in additional than a half-century of spacewalking.

A essential battery charger failed over the weekend, prompting the change, NASA officers stated Monday. The ladies will substitute the damaged part, moderately than set up new batteries, which was their authentic job.

Final week, astronauts performed the primary two of 5 spacewalks to exchange outdated batteries that make up the station’s solar energy community. The remaining spacewalks — initially scheduled for this week and subsequent — have been delayed for not less than one other few weeks so engineers can decide why the battery charger failed. It is the second such failure this yr.

The units regulate the quantity of cost going to and from every battery. One did not kick in Friday night time, stopping one of many three newly put in lithium-ion batteries from working. The balky charger is 19 years outdated; the one which failed within the spring was nearly as outdated. Solely three spares stay obtainable.

“It is completely a priority at this level when you do not know what is going on on,” stated Kenny Todd, an area station supervisor. “We’re nonetheless scratching our heads wanting on the information. Hopefully, we will clear that up in comparatively brief order.”

Regardless of the slight lack of energy, the orbiting lab and its six occupants are protected, in keeping with NASA, and science operations are unaffected. The present state of affairs is “manageable, however once more not one thing that we might wish to dwell with in the long run,” Todd advised reporters.

NASA initially deliberate an all-female spacewalk final spring, however needed to cancel it due to a scarcity of available medium-size fits. Koch helped assemble an additional medium go well with over the summer time.

“Superb that we now have four knowledgeable spacewalkers on board to shoulder this powerful activity. They’re the A-team!” tweeted astronaut Anne McClain, who would have gone spacewalking with Koch in March if not for the suit-sizing problem.

Whereas all 4 — two males and two girls — are equally skilled for the restore job, Koch and Meir are the suitable decisions given the longer term spacewalking workload, officers famous.

Because the first spacewalk in 1965, there have been 227 spacewalkers, solely 14 of them girls. Meir can be making her first spacewalk and develop into No. 15. All however certainly one of these girls has been American.

The upcoming spacewalk can be “completely … an thrilling occasion,” stated Megan McArthur, deputy chief of NASA’s astronaut corps. “The truth that it will likely be two girls simply is a mirrored image of the truth that we now have so many succesful, certified girls within the workplace.”

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