Astronaut suffers health problem and NASA decides to postpone spacewalk

This Tuesday (24), astronauts Mark Vande Hei, from NASA, and Akihiko Hoshide, from the Japanese space agency, would take a spacewalk to prepare the structure of the International Space Station (ISS) for the installation of new solar panels. However, due to a minor health problem involving Vande Hei, the space agency decided to postpone the plans. There is still no new date for the procedure.

In a statement, NASA officials clarified that the issue involving Vande Hei’s health is not a medical emergency. “The spacewalk is not urgent, and crew members continue to move forward with other work and activities on the station,” they explained. The idea was that, during the spacewalk, the pair would install a modification kit that will allow the installation of new solar panels, in addition to replacing a device that measures the electrical potential of the panels’ charges.

The activities that would be carried out by the pair are part of an update work on the station’s electrical system. The current solar panels have been in operation since they were installed, between 2000 and 2009, and they work well, but they are already showing signs of wear. Thus, the new panels should provide an increase of up to 30% in energy production for the station.

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Now, these activities will have to wait a while as the NASA team works to find a new date for the procedure, as the station’s schedule is expected to get busy soon. A SpaceX Dragon freighter is due to launch next weekend on a supply mission; in parallel, Russia also plans to take the next week to carry out a spacewalk with cosmonauts to finalize the installation of the Nauka module.

Source: NASA, Space.com

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