In a major leap in space exploration, two U.S. astronauts successfully completed their spacewalk that had the mandate to fix an ailing radiator and install two high-definition cameras.
The mission aboard the International Space Station had Jeff Williams, 58, and Kate Rubins, 37 leaving the airlock around 8 a.m. EDT (1200 GMT), which was then orbiting 400 km above Earth.
The spacewalk started at 7:53 a.m. EDT and ended at 2:41 p.m. The duo re-entered the station and was ushered in by Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi and cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin. Rubins has become the 12th woman to walk in space.
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"The two NASA astronauts successfully retracted a thermal radiator, installed two enhanced high definition cameras on the station's truss and tightened bolts on a joint that enables one of the station's solar arrays to rotate," NASA said.
During the mission, the spacewalkers also tightened brake on a crew equipment cart that was mounted on the rails of a carrier and moved the robot along the solar power truss.
A top NASA official even hailed the astronauts feat.
"Their combination of athleticism and problem-solving really, in my mind, is a perfect blend of Michael Phelps, Simone Biles and Mark Watney," said Zebulon Scoville, NASA lead flight director.
Fixing the radiator was a challenge as similar missions had failed in the past. On spacewalk 33, NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren were not able to fix the radiator's problems and the mission was reported by Tech Times.
The Trailing Thermal Control Radiator (TTRC) was in use in the early phase of the ISS when the P6 solar array truss used to be mounted on the central Unity module.
But the module was later moved out to the left end of the power truss. Later the TTCR was re-extended to fix an ammonia coolant leak.
According to NASA, Williams and Rubins easily retracted the panels by compressing them and installed a protective shield over the panels.
"It's one of our high priority spares, we really want to be able to get it retracted and covered up so we can count on it in the future should the need arise," flight director Zeb Scoville added.
The newly installed cameras will be used for capturing high-resolution images of space vehicles that may dock with the space station for ensuring the safe return of the crew.