A Russian cosmonaut and a European astronaut aboard the International Space Station are scheduled to perform a spacewalk today at 10:00 a.m. ET. The duo will continue the installation of a robotic arm on the station that’s attached to a Russian module. You can catch the action live right here.
Update: July 21, 4:45 p.m. ET: The decision was made to terminate the spacewalk approximately one hour early due to time constraints relating to life support systems in the spacesuits. Artemyev and Cristoforetti began their spacewalk at 10:50 a.m. ET. Remaining work tasks will be addressed in a future spacewalk.
Update: July 21, 10:00 a.m. ET: The two ISS crew members are about 40 minutes behind schedule, as they required extra time to put on their spacesuits. The walk is now scheduled to begin around 10:40 a.m. ET.
Original post follows.
The International Space Station is the focus again today as Russian cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev from Roscosmos and astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency (ESA) are planning a spacewalk today. This will be Cristoforetti’s first spacewalk. Today’s walk will be the second stint to install the new robotic arm, the first happening back in April.
In a press release, NASA said the objective of the spacewalk—which is slated to take a grueling six-and-a-half hours to complete—is to “install platforms and workstation adapter hardware” near the Nauka laboratory’s new 37-foot-long (11.2 meters) manipulator arm built by ESA. Nauka is a Russian module that reached the ISS last year.
The duo, who will be donning Russian Orlan spacesuits, is also expected to move the arm’s control panel, replace a window on the arm’s camera, and extend a boom from the ISS’s Zarya module to the Poisk module for future spacewalks. NASA says that coverage will begin at 9:30 a.m. ET, while the spacewalk is scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. The coverage will be streamed on NASA’s website, app and NASA Television, which is also viewable via YouTube. The spacewalk can also be seen at the feed provided above.
The arm will be used to move incoming payloads and perform other tasks around the station exterior, but the arm’s fate was put in question when ESA director Josef Aschbacher announced earlier this month that ESA and Russia would no longer be collaborating on a future mission to Mars amidst Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Roscosmos director Dmitry Rogozin then posted some inflammatory words for Aschbacher on Telegram and commanded cosmonauts aboard the ISS to cease work on the robotic arm, a directive that Artemyev is now ignoring ahead of his spacewalk with Cristoforetti. No matter, because Rogozin was dismissed from his position as director of Roscosmos just last week.
This upcoming spacewalk is a testament to the collaboration that can exist aboard the International Space Station amongst the shared goal of scientific advancement and excitement for space research, even in the face of strenuous geopolitics.