An ISS spacewalk is underway and the helmet-cam video is mesmerizing

Chris Davies - Sep 3, 2021, 12:28pm CDT
An ISS spacewalk is underway and the helmet-cam video is mesmerizing

Two Russian cosmonauts have been undertaking a spacewalk at the International Space Station today, and while their task may be to establish key links to the new Nauka module, it’s also an opportunity for some jaw-dropping helmet-cam footage. Expedition 65 Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov – both of Roscosmos – opened the airlock hatch at 10:41am EDT.

Nauka, alternatively known as the Multipurpose Laboratory Module-Upgrade, or MLM-U, has been a long time coming to the ISS. Russia initially intended to launch it back in 2007, but multiple successive delays meant it wasn’t until July 2021 that it blasted off.

Even then, it managed to cause some controversy. Shortly after docking with the ISS on July 29, 2021, Nauka’s engine thrusters unexpectedly fired. That ended up rotating the ISS, with the space station only being brought back into its correct orientation after the module extinguished its fuel and the engines cut out. NASA said at the time that the ISS crew onboard was in no danger from the incident, but it did delay one of the launch attempts for Boeing’s beleaguered Starliner OFT-2.

Now, though, it’s time for Nauka to get linked up to the ISS itself. Though the new module has been attached to the Zvezda Service Module’s nadir port, it hasn’t been connected to power and ethernet. That’s one of the tasks Novitskiy and Dubrov have today.

The other goal for the spacewalk is to install new ISS hardware. The cosmonauts will be fitting handrails to the exterior of the space station, making it easier for those venturing outside in future to maneuver themselves around.

It’s been an opportunity to capture new, mesmerizing footage from the helmet cameras sported by both cosmonauts. While video of Earth from the ISS has been plentiful since the science platform was first established in orbit, spacewalks are far rarer. In fact, there have been fewer than 250 in the ISS’s history. Today’s is expected to last for up to seven hours, though only be the first of 11 in total to get Nauka ready for full operations.

Still planned for Nauka is another addition, which Roscosmos aims to launch in November of this year. The Prichal Node Module is expected to add more docking ports to the Russian Orbital Segment of the ISS, taking the total to four. However, Russia is looking beyond the ISS for the new modules, with both Nauka and Prichal potentially being relocated to become part of Roscosmos’ Russian Orbital Service Station. That’s not scheduled to begin construction until 2025, however.

You can watch the whole spacewalk via NASA TV, beamed live from the ISS.


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