‘Debris Notification’ Forces NASA to Reschedule Spacewalk

‘Debris Notification’ Forces NASA to Reschedule Spacewalk
Image: NASA

NASA had to postpone a scheduled spacewalk to swap out a faulty communications antenna system on the International Space Station because continuing on with the mission could have put astronauts in severe danger.

The danger was debris. NASA on Tuesday said it received a debris notification for the International Space Station (ISS). Due to the lack of opportunity to properly assess the risk it could pose to the astronauts, it said the teams had decided to delay the spacewalk until more information became available.

NASA didn’t specify where the debris came from but on Wednesday it said the debris does not pose a risk to the spacewalk and it has now rescheduled it.

The plan was for two NASA astronauts to venture outside the ISS on Tuesday, November 30, for a spacewalk to replace a faulty antenna system. It will now go ahead on Thursday, December 2.

NASA will provide live coverage of the news conference and spacewalk on NASA Television, the agency’s website and the NASA app.

NASA astronauts Thomas Marshburn and Kayla Barron are expected to exit the Quest airlock to replace an S-band Antenna Subassembly (SASA) with a spare already available on the station’s truss structure.

The space station transmits low-rate voice and data with flight controllers on the ground over the S-band of radio frequencies, NASA explains.

The rescheduled spacewalk is expected to take about six hours and 30 minutes to complete. Marshburn and Barron will work at the Port 1 truss structure, where the antenna is mounted.

The antenna recently lost its ability to send signals to Earth via NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System.

“Although its degradation has had limited impact on station operations, mission managers decided to install a new antenna to ensure communications redundancy,” NASA said. “The space station has additional low-rate S-band systems, as well as the high-rate KU-band communications system that relays video.”