US spacewalkers float out to lubricate robotic arm

10 October 2017 - 14:50 By afp.com
Suited up for his spacewalk, astronaut Randy Bresnik is wearing his Extravehicular Mobility Unit. File photo.
Suited up for his spacewalk, astronaut Randy Bresnik is wearing his Extravehicular Mobility Unit. File photo.
Image: NASA

Two US astronauts embarked Tuesday on the second spacewalk this month to make much-needed repairs to the International Space Station's robotic arm, NASA said.

Expedition 53 Commander Randy Bresnik is leading the outing, accompanied by NASA flight engineer Mark Vande Hei.

The spacewalk formally began when the duo switched their spacesuits to battery power at 7:56 am (1156 GMT), then floated out into the vacuum of space, NASA said.

On their spacewalk Thursday, the pair replaced the latching end of the 57-foot-long (18-meter) Canadian-made arm, called Canadarm2.

The robotic arm was installed at the orbiting outpost 16 years ago, and recently stopped gripping effectively.

Astronauts need it in working order so it can capture incoming cargo ships that ferry supplies to the crew living in orbit. The next US shipment arrives in November.

Tuesday's spacewalk, and another one on October 18, are devoted "to lubricating the newly replaced Canadarm2 end effector and replacing cameras on the left side of the station's truss and the right side of the station's US Destiny laboratory," NASA said.

The spacewalk is scheduled to last six and a half hours.

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