Following a review by station program management last week, managers Thursday gave the green light for the first station-based spacewalk using U.S. space suits since 2003. Station Commander Bill McArthur and Flight Engineer Valery Tokarev reviewed procedures and prepared tools for the spacewalk. It will begin at 9:30 a.m. EST Monday.
During the 5½-hour spacewalk, McArthur and Tokarev will install a TV camera on the station's port truss. The camera will be an important aid during future assembly work to add additional truss segments on the port side of the complex. They also plan to remove an old experiment from the top of the P6 truss, the station's highest point. The experiment measured the electrical environment around the station.
During interviews with reporters from ABC and CBS News Wednesday, McArthur and Tokarev discussed their upcoming spacewalk and marked the fifth anniversary of the start of a permanent human presence on the outpost. The first station crew, Commander Bill Shepherd and cosmonauts Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko, arrived at the complex on Nov. 2, 2000.
During the first half of this week, McArthur and Tokarev focused on the maintenance of hardware. Monday they disassembled and measured air flow in the Trace Contaminant Control System. The hardware keeps a clean, healthy atmosphere by filtering out contaminants in the air. Engineers noticed a reduction in the air flow, and after the crew examined its components, determined that replacement hardware may need to be delivered on a future supply ship. After reassembling the device, the system is running at a slightly reduced capacity, complemented by a fully operational and complementary system in the Russian segment.
McArthur and Tokarev also replaced a faulty pump in a thermal control loop and smoke detectors in the Zvezda Service Module and cleaned ventilation filters in the Zarya module.