NASA delays spacewalk following space debris alert

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A scheduled spacewalk by NASA astronauts was postponed after the agency received a debris warning for the International Space Station (ISS). 

In a statement, NASA wrote that the notification of debris was received on Monday evening.

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“Due to the lack of opportunity to properly assess the risk it could pose to the astronauts, teams have decided to delay the spacewalk planned for Tuesday, Nov. 30 until more information is available,” it said on the Space Station blog

The International Space Station photographed by Expedition 56 crew members from a Soyuz spacecraft after undocking. Image of ISS as of Oct. 4, 2018. 

The International Space Station photographed by Expedition 56 crew members from a Soyuz spacecraft after undocking. Image of ISS as of Oct. 4, 2018. 
(NASA)

“The space station schedule and operations are able to easily accommodate the delay of the spacewalk,” NASA added. 

The spacewalk had been scheduled to begin at 7:10 a.m. ET.

NASA astronauts Thomas Marshburn and Kayla Barron were set to replace an S-band Antenna Subassembly (SASA) antenna system with a spare that was already available on the station’s truss structure.

NASA astronauts Thomas Marshburn and Kayla Barron were slated to perform a spacewalk to replace a faulty antenna system.

NASA astronauts Thomas Marshburn and Kayla Barron were slated to perform a spacewalk to replace a faulty antenna system.

(Credit: NASA)

The agency noted that the antenna had recently lost its ability to send signals to Earth via NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System. 

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“Although its degradation has had limited impact on station operations, mission managers decided to install a new antenna to ensure communications redundancy. The space station has additional low-rate S-band systems, as well as the high-rate KU-band communications system that relays video,” NASA wrote on Monday.

The six-and-a-half-hour spacewalk would be the 245th spacewalk in support of space station assembly.

Additionally, the upcoming spacewalk will be the fifth spacewalk for Marshburn, the first spacewalk for Barron and the 13th spacewalk on the space station this year. 

The astronauts arrived for a six-month science mission at the ISS on Nov. 11 with NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission aboard the Crew Dragon Endurance.

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Space.com notes that a recent Russian anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon test resulted in a new cloud of more than 150 trackable pieces of debris and forced the space station crew to take temporary cover on Nov. 14. 

Whether that event and the spacewalk delay were related is not clear.

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