Michigan Students to Speak with NASA Astronauts on Space Station

In this frame from NASA TV Astronaut Mark Vande Hei works on the International Space Station on Thursday Oct. 5 2017. Hei and Randy Bresnik went out on a spacewalk to give the International Space Station’s big robot arm a new hand. (NASA TV via AP

Astronauts Randy Bresnik and Mark Vande Hei will be performing a spacewalk outside the International Space Station.

Two astronauts ventured outside the International Space Station early Thursday to carry out what amounts to hand transplant surgery on the lab's Canadian-built robot arm, removing a crippled grapple fixture on one end of the arm and replacing it with an on-board spare. Expedition 53 astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba will also "stand" on Canadarm2 during spacewalks on October 10 and October 18.

Five days from now, on October 10th, Bresnik and Vande Hei will do another spacewalk to lubricate the new LEE and then replace a camera on the outside of the station.

Canadarm2 riding the Mobile Base System along the Mobile Transporter railway, running the length of the station's main truss. Now, efforts will focus on the robotic arm, informally known as Canadarm2.

For identification, Bresnik, call sign EV-1, is using helmet camera 18 and wearing a suit with red stripes.

The arm is integral to space station operations and can extend 60 feet off ISS, grabbing visiting cargo vehicles and payloads. Vande Hei, EV-2, is wearing an unmarked suit and is using helmetcam 20.

The spacewalk will be the first out of their three planned for October that having the aim to get the Canadian robotic arm in good shape for doing effective work outside the ISS.

But that doesn't mean it doesn't experience wear and tear.

The station has a spare LEE stored outside the ISS, which the astronauts retrieved to make the fix. While this will be the first-ever spacewalk of the latter, it will mark the third one of Bresnik.

When the spacewalk begins, Nespoli will head to the robotic workstation, where he will be able to remotely operate Canadarm2 and help the two spacewalkers reach the LEE at the end of the arm.

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