United States spacewalkers fix ageing ISS robotic arm

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The first six-hour walk unfolded Thursday morning with Commander Randy Bresnik and Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei, the space agency said.

Two astronauts will take a spacewalk outside the International Space Station (ISS) today (Oct. 5), kicking off a trifecta of spacewalks set to take place over the next two weeks.

During three spacewalks on October 5, 10 and 18, astronauts will replace an aging Latching End Effector (LEE) at the end of the Canadarm2 robotic arm.

The primary goal of the spacewalk is to replace latching end effector A, or LEE-A, one of two grappling mechanisms on the station's Canadian-built robot arm. Now, efforts will focus on the robotic arm, informally known as Canadarm2.

All the three spacewalks of October are slated to begin at 8:05 am EDT (8:05 pm SST) but they may begin early if the crew runs ahead of the schedule. For the third spacewalk, Acaba will join Bresnik instead. One LEE is connected to the ISS by attaching the arm to the station; the other is extended into space and grabs the objects.

A few moments later, Vande Hei, making his first spacewalk, made his way outside. To tell the two apart during the webcast, look for the red stripes on Bresnik's suit. The LEE works as the "hand" of Canadarm2 and is used to grapple incoming cargo spacecraft. Vande Hei, EV-2, is wearing an unmarked suit and is using helmetcam 20.

The station has a spare LEE stored outside the ISS, which the astronauts retrieved to make the fix.

They replaced one of two Latching End Effectors (LEE) which had lost the ability to grip effectively, said the USA space agency.

In the near term, two more spacewalks are planned October 10 and 18 to lubricate the newly attached LEE-A fitting, to replace two cameras with degraded color and to carry out other routine maintenance.

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