After prepping their affected person — a $2 billion cosmic ray detector — valid thru two earlier spacewalks, two blueprint place astronauts ventured serve out of doors for a 1/three time out Monday to realize what amounted to transplant surgery, putting in substitute coolant pumps in a narrate to revive the costly instrument and extend its lifestyles.
The work required European Space Company astronaut Luca Parmitano and NASA crewmate Drew Morgan to join the 350-pound pump module to the 7.5-ton Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, mosey in power and records cables and then splice together eight existing coolant lines that had been minimize valid thru the crew’s second spacewalk.
The AMS develop to be now not designed to be serviced in orbit and connecting, or “swaging,” the tiny, rather fragile coolant lines while working in pressurized spacesuits develop to be belief to be as an especially anxious process, rivaling work to repair a number of the crucial Hubble Space Telescope’s most restful systems.
But four years of planning and coaching paid off, and the astronauts had no considerations working thru their repair checklist, winding up all of the specified connections. They returned to the International Space Build’s Quest airlock at 12:33 p.m. EST to wrap up a six-hour, two-minute tour.
“You guys, I even wish to utter, made that demand easy this day,” Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen radioed from mission preserve watch over in Houston. “A terribly good job. We’re in a factual posture to gain AMS up and running on the next EVA (spacewalk).”
The crew reported a tiny quantity of water in Parmitano’s spacesuit at the terminate of the time out, a reminder that he develop to be forced to comprise an emergency return to the airlock valid thru a 2013 spacewalk when his helmet flooded with water from the swimsuit’s cooling intention. It develop to be now not straight identified the place the water observed Monday got right here from or what impact, if any, it’d need on the crew’s plans for a fourth and closing AMS repair spacewalk.
A closing tour is required to be obvious the AMS coolant intention is leak-free and to reinstall insulation sooner than the instrument shall be reactivated.
However the crew’s December time desk is jam-packed, with the arrival of U.S. and Russian cargo ships and Boeing’s Starliner commercial crew tablet, which is scheduled for open to the place on an unpiloted take a look at flight spherical December 17. Whether the crew can squeeze in another spacewalk between now and the terminate of the 365 days is now not but identified.
However the crew develop to be extremely contented getting thru the first three spacewalks with none distinguished considerations, crediting their coaching teams for the qualified work.
“Confidently with the next EVA, we will uncover all this work develop to be build to factual utilize,” Parmitano radioed.
Floating within the Quest airlock compartment, Parmitano and Morgan switched their spacesuits to battery power at 6:31 a.m. EST to officially kick off the Eleventh spacewalk as much as now this 365 days, the 224th devoted to place meeting and repairs since building began in 1998.
Launched to the blueprint place in 2011, the AMS develop to be built to have a examine excessive-energy cosmic rays to earn clues about what came about to the antimatter presumably created valid thru the big bang in equal measure with same outdated topic. Matter and antimatter annihilate on contact, and it be now not obvious why the universe is dominated by same outdated topic this day.
The AMS additionally could presumably make clear the personality of the unseen darkish topic permeating the universe and the mysterious darkish energy that looks to be speeding up the expansion of the cosmos.
To achieve the specified sensitivity, the AMS detectors have to be chilled utilizing carbon dioxide coolant pushed thru the instrument in thin lines the width of a pencil. First and main designed to operate for right three years, the AMS chalked up eight years of operation sooner than being hobbled by coolant pump failures.
To repair the intention, engineers got right here up with a four-spacewalk idea to install a personalised-built module containing four mighty pumps and a reservoir of new carbon dioxide coolant. For the reason that AMS develop to be now not designed to be serviced, engineers had to come up with a diversity of modern tools and tactics, requiring years of planning, pattern and coaching.
“One thing that is de facto, genuinely frigid for an astronaut is to the truth is be phase of the strategy of an EVA,” Parmitano said valid thru pre-flight coaching. “I have been fortunate ample to were phase of the strategy crew from the starting up, at the origin right as a consultant and then … as a take a look at field for a number of the crucial tools.
“We’ll fabricate what could be belief to be as birth coronary heart surgery on this unparalleled experiment. We’ll slice serve tubes, and install a entirely new pump to aid the refrigeration work, maintaining the magnet frigid so the the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer can work. Right here is de facto the first time any of those actions were attempted.”
At some level of spacewalks November 15 and 22, Parmitano and Morgan eradicated a protective panel from the AMS, exposing the thermal preserve watch over intention. Then they minimize zip ties and pulled serve insulation, minimize thru a line to vent residual coolant overboard and then minimize eight coolant circulation lines, setting the stage for Monday’s spacewalk.
“The 1/three EVA is after we bring out the new pump intention, we install that, and then we now have bought … eight tubes that we’re connecting,” said Brian Mader, an engineer at the Johnson Space Center who helped set the repair work. “It is a fraction of art work. It’s genuinely unparalleled how … the engineers figured out suggestions to coil these tubes on the sphere.”
The pump module contains four tiny pumps, a spherical carbon dioxide tank and records and power cables. To splice it into the AMS thermal preserve watch over intention, Parmitano and Morgan linked the eight previously minimize coolant lines, one after the opposite, successfully splicing, or “swaging,” them together utilizing personalized tools.
While the work gave the affect to crawl simply, the intention could presumably now not be pressurized until the fourth spacewalk when Parmitano and Morgan shall be ready to tighten fittings as required to be obvious leak-free efficiency. As soon as the closing spacewalk is full, engineers will press ahead with re-activating the AMS and resuming science operations.