The sun was setting 500 miles above the Indian Ocean as astronauts Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold headed out of the airlock on the International Space Station (ISS) to fix a leaky cooling system.
This was the 210th spacewalk on the ISS, and the 50th from this particular airlock. The astronauts’ primary task was really removing a faulty Pump Flow Control Subassembly (PFCS) and moving a spare PFCS into a better position for future repairs. The PCFS is part of the station’s cooling system and helps move ammonia along the exterior of the spacecraft.
Fuestel and Arnold breezed through the repairs, and also replaced a camera system and a communications receiver on the outside of the ISS. Arnold even managed to take a selfie while on a spacewalk.
If you ever wondered about how detailed the planning is for a spacewalk, take a look at this animation. It brings you through every task the astronauts performed yesterday, down to when they had to move, when they stopped to clean up their worksite, and how they got to all their tools. Beware—there’s an alphabet soup of acronyms to swim through.
If that whets your appetite for what is arguably one of the most interesting maintenance jobs in the world, the 6.5 hour version is here.
The next spacewalk on the ISS is currently planned for next month, and has an eye towards the space station’s future. On June 14 Fuestel and Arnold will again head back out through the airlock to install brackets and HD cameras on the Harmony module. The cameras will help commercial crew vehicles like SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Capsule or Boeing’s Starliner eventually dock with the space station.