(Photo : Youtube/UNIVERSE DOPE) NASA astronaut space walk

NASA is sending two of their astronauts to conduct the 237th spacewalk outside the International Space Station or ISS on Mar. 13.

NASA's ISS maintenance

According to CNN, the two astronauts, Victor Glover and Mike Hopkins are scheduled to embark on the fifth spacewalk of the year to carry out numerous system upgrades needed by the ISS.

The Expedition 64 engineers are running a bit behind schedule, as they were expected to exit the station's Quest airlock at a little after 7:30 a.m. ET for a mission that is expected to take around six and a half hours. The crew would first stay in the airlock donning their suits before their mission.

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During the spacewalk, both Glover and Hopkins are tasked to work on the station's port truss, also known as the port's backbone, where they will vent early ammonia system jumper lines and relocate one of them near the Quest airlock in order to reconnect the jumper cable to the station's cooling system and increase its efficiency.

The two astronauts will also connect cables for the station's science laboratory's Bartolomeo platform Parking Position Interface or PAPOS, an external payload hosting platform, that continues work from a spacewalk conducted on Jan. 27, and replace a cable for a newer radio system.

Also, the astronauts will replace a wireless antenna assembly on the Unity connecting module. This component connects the Russian and U.S segments of the station, and install a stiffener on the airlock's thermal cover and route cables to give ethernet capabilities for two high-definition cameras on the port truss. 

This will mark Glover's fourth spacewalk of his career and Hopkin's fifth. Hopkins is wearing a high-definition camera on his helmet in order to provide clear views of the Columbus module connectors.

This is the second spacewalk this month.

On Mar. 5, NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi spent the same amount of time outside the Columbus module as part of the training to prepare for solar array upgrades that are scheduled to be done later this year.

The solar array panels soak up the sun's energy to provide electrical power to the ISS systems and have been showing signs of degradation lately.

The coverage of the maintenance event is being streamed live on NASA TV, and feeds are accessible on NASA's app, YouTube, and social media platforms.

NASA's mission

The spacewalk happens around the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic. Glover and Hopkins addressed the timing in a video released by NASA on Mar. 12, according to Bloomberg.

Throughout the pandemic, NASA has been able to launch astronauts to the space station, including the historic Crew-1 mission that carried both Hopkins and Glover and NASA astronaut Shannon Walker and JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi.

NASA is looking at a very busy couple of months. The Russian space agency Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov and NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei will fly to the space station from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Apr. 9.

Vande Hei was chosen as an astronaut in 2009, and he had his first spaceflight experience on the space station in Sep. 2017 to Feb. 2018. He stayed aboard the station for 168 days and conducted four spacewalks.

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Written by Sieeka Khan

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