Ebene Magazine – Spacewalking astronauts upgrade the station’s European laboratory

Ebene Magazine - Spacewalking astronauts upgrade the station's European laboratory

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January 27, 2021

by Marcia Dunn

Spacewalking astronauts installed a high-speed data link in front of the International Space Station’s European laboratory on Wednesday and began further improvements.

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NASA’s Mike Hopkins and Victor Glover floated out early and headed straight to Columbus, one of the three high-tech labs at the encircling outpost.

« That’s a beautiful view, » remarked Hopkins when the Station rose 420 kilometers above Kazakhstan.

The astronauts have taken a stylish new antenna for Columbus, which enables faster communication with European researchers via satellites and ground stations. Although they struggled to fit some of the screws to secure the box-shaped antenna the size of a small refrigerator, it seemed secure and Mission Control declared it a success.

Danish astronaut Andreas Morgensen led the Mission spacewalkers Control in Houston, where the air traffic controllers wore masks and sat apart because of the pandemic.

The spacewalkers also had to connect power and data cables for an experimental platform for scientific research outside the European laboratory that has been waiting to be activated for almost a year .

SpaceX delivered the Bartolomeo platform to the space station last spring. The shelf was installed using the station’s robotic arm, but had to wait until Wednesday’s spacewalk to be plugged in and activated.

Airbus, which Bartolomeo builds and operates, is selling space on the platform for private research projects. It is Europe’s first commercial venture outside the station.

Hopkins and Glover will do a second spacewalk on Monday to complete the battery upgrades of the station’s solar power grid. The last spacewalk was the third for Hopkins and the first for Glover.

They are part of SpaceX’s second astronaut flight, which was launched in November. Her docked kite pod was seen on NASA television during the spacewalk.

© 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.

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