Spacewalkers replace faulty S-band antenna
Expedition 66 crewmates Tom Marshburn and Kayla Barron completed the 6-hour, 32-minute extravehicular activity (EVA) on Thursday (Dec. 2), having installed a spare S-band Antenna Subassembly (SASA) on the station's backbone truss in place of a degraded unit, which was stowed on an exterior pallet.
Marshburn and Barron began the spacewalk at 6:15 a.m. EST (1115 GMT).
While Marshburn retrieved a portable foot restraint to mount to the end of the station's Canadarm2 robotic arm, Barron made her way to the ExPRESS (EXpedite the PRocessing of Experiments to Space Station) Logistics Carrier-3 (ELC-3), a platform mounted on the Port 1 (P1) truss where the spare antenna was stored. There, Barron worked on temporarily stowing the tools she and Marshburn would need for the replacement and began preparing the spare SASA for its removal from the pallet.
Marshburn, meanwhile, mounted the end of the 58-foot (17.6 m) Canadarm2 to be positioned near the failed SASA. NASA astronaut Raja Chari and Matthias Maurer of the European Space Agency (ESA) operated the robotic arm's controls from inside the station to move Marshburn into place.
Marshburn installed stabilizing gimbal locks on the degraded SASA before removing it from the truss and temporarily securing it on ELC-3. He and Barron then released the replacement unit from the platform, including unwrapping a thermal blanket that had covered the spare SASA while it was stowed.
After moving the replacement SASA to the P1 truss on the Canadarm2, Marshburn bolted it into place, ran cables and released gimbal locks that will allow the antenna to move. He and Barron then returned to the ELC to inspect and properly stow the faulty SASA on the pallet.
Wrapping up their work with the antennas, the two astronauts draped the faulty unit with the thermal blanket earlier removed from its replacement. The two then performed a voice check with the newly-installed SASA.
"We have a working SASA antenna, great job," radioed Morgan from Mission Control.
"That's fantastic," replied Marshburn.
"Awesome!" Barron exclaimed.
Barron gathered the tools she had brought out to the ELC platform and returned to them to the airlock, while Marshburn rode the Canadarm2 to return the portable foot restraint to its original mount on the truss.
Having steadily worked more than an hour ahead of their schedule, the two spacewalkers were then given the go to tackle a few "get ahead" tasks. Barron loosened bolts on a battery unit to ease its future replacement and ran two long wire ties to secure a solar array bracket box, while Marshburn photographed a pip pin installed on a previous spacewalk.
The astronauts then then re-entered the space station. The spacewalk came to an end at 12:47 p.m. EST (1747 GMT) as the Quest airlock began to repressurize.
Thursday's spacewalk was the fifth EVA for Marshburn and first for Barron. At 61, Marshburn is now the oldest person in the world to have conducted a spacewalk, surpassing Roscosmos cosmonaut Pavel Vinogradov, who previously set the record at 59 in 2013. Marshburn has now logged a total of 31 hours and 1 minute working in the vacuum of space.
The degraded SASA unit was launched by the space shuttle Discovery on its STS-92 mission in 2000. The replacement unit was delivered by Endeavour's final mission, STS-134, in 2011. A previous SASA replacement spacewalk was conducted in 2006 by STS-115 crewmates Joe Tanner and Heide Stefanyshyn-Piper.