ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen will venture outside the International Space Station to install a new camera and prepare an experiment for a future upgrade on his first spacewalk on 12 October, starting at 16:00 CEST (15:00 BST).
After becoming commander of the International Space Station, Andreas is now set to go on a spacewalk, or extravehicular activity as it is known to the crew, together with NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara.
To prepare for their spacewalk the spacewalking duo will breathe pure oxygen and do some light exercise to get rid of nitrogen in their blood, which can cause serious health issues when going from a high to a low-pressure environment.
Leak and communication checks will be performed in the Quest airlock before Andreas and Loral exit through the same module to venture outside the International Space Station.
Beautiful views for all of us on Earth
Outside the Space Station, Andreas will install a new high-definition camera while strapped to the Station’s robotic arm Canadarm2. For the first time the robotic arm will be operated from ground control instead of by an astronaut on the Space Station. NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli will be inside the International Space Station monitoring operations and ready to take over if needed.
The new camera will provide a high-definition view of Earth, upgrading the current camera that is installed underneath the Space Station.
Loral will take swabs from around Space Station vents and the Quest airlock to look for any signs of microbes outside the International Space Station. The Space Station’s life support system vents carbon dioxide and other gasses into space to maintain breathable air for the astronauts inside the Station, and it is possible that bacterial residue is left near the vents. Understanding if bacteria can survive on surfaces in outer space will help reducing human contamination on future missions to the Moon and Mars.
Afterwards both astronauts will move to the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS-02) and check a new tool to connect and disconnect cables to the AMS This will prepare the future upgrade of AMS-02.
The two spacewalkers are always attached to the Space Station with safety tethers and will also have the SAFER system on their space suit to help them back to the Space Station if ever they come untethered.
The spacewalkers will be guided through each step by NASA astronaut Jonathan Yong Kim from mission control at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Texas, USA. This is a role which Andreas has performed himself, during his time as ESA liaison officer.
Andreas has practised for spacewalks while training for his Huginn mission. He tested the waters at the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory at Johnson Space Center. The 12-meter-deep pool, with a mock-up of the Space Station, provides the closest resemblance to doing a spacewalk without leaving Earth.
Follow Andreas’s spacewalk on 12 October on ESA WebTV channel 2, starting at 16:00 CEST (15:00 BST), it is planned to last six hours.