Spacewalks scheduled for travelers aboard the International Space Station (ISS) have been delayed, due to possible problems with a spacesuit. Those extravehicular activities (EVAs) were scheduled to begin on February 20, but NASA officials have postponed the start of that mission until the following day. This will allow enough time for astronauts and mission planners to investigate potential problems with suits scheduled for use during the EVA.
The second scheduled spacewalk will be aimed at rerouting cables on the outside of the craft, preparing the ISS for the arrival of new commercial space capsules, starting in the year 2017. This activity is now scheduled for February 25, with a third outing to take place on March 1.
A pair of fan and pump units in spacesuits failed during recent maintenance, and were returned to Earth aboard a Dragon spacecraft. Investigators believe water may have seeped into the devices, causing them to control.
Butch Wilmore and Terry Virts, both astronauts, are scheduled to complete the spacewalk. Mission planners at NASA want to complete all three of the walks before Wilmore returns to Earth in the middle of March.
"Amidst the spacewalk preparations, the Expedition 42 crew members continued ongoing advanced microgravity science benefiting life on Earth and current and future crew members. The crew looked at stem growth for the Aniso Tubule botany experiment, cell cultures grown on orbit and a crew member's cardiac activity during long-duration missions," NASA officials reported.
In 2013, a problem with the same water pump in a spacesuit worn by Luca Parmitano resulted in the Italian astronaut nearly drowning during an EVA. He told NASA officials he felt like a goldfish inside a bowl as water began to fill his helmet. Officials from the space agency say any future problem with water pumps in spacesuits would result in EVA's being cut short, but are not likely to be dangerous to astronauts. It is possible release of water and resulting corrosion was triggered by frequent water testing procedures put in place by the space agency following that incident.
Boeing and SpaceX are both developing new space capsules and delivery systems that will continue to deliver cargo, and eventually, crew members to the orbiting outpost.
Two international docking adapters (IDAs) will be installed on the space station, allowing future capsules to dock with the ISS. Along with the rearrangement of cables, astronauts will also prepare the Canadarm 2 for the upcoming arrivals. Each of the three spacewalks are scheduled to begin each day at 7:10 a.m.