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ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano to lead most challenging spacewalks since Hubble repairs

Christian Fernsby |
The date is set for ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano’s first spacewalk of his Beyond mission. Friday 15 November marks the start of a series of complex spacewalks to service the cosmic-particle-hunting Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS-02).

It is the first time a European astronaut will take a leading role and the full spacewalk will be streamed live via ESA Web TV from 12:50 CET (11:50 GMT).

Luca and his spacewalking partner NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan will exit the International Space Station airlock at around 13:05 CET (12:05 GMT). The spacewalking series is expected to be the most challenging since work to repair the Hubble Space Telescope.

As the lead spacewalker, known as ‘EV1’, Luca will wear a white spacesuit with red stripes while Andrew wears the white spacesuit with no stripes.

The pair will be supported by NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir who will operate the Canadarm2 robotic arm from inside the Station. This will help position the astronauts around their hard-to-reach work site, located on top of the Station’s S3 Truss structure between a pair of solar arrays and radiators.

AMS-02 records the number and characteristics of cosmic ray particles that pass through all of its detectors.

Researchers, astronauts and operations teams have had to develop new procedures and more than 20 custom tools to extend the instrument’s life.

Luca and Andrew’s core task will be to replace the AMS-02 cooling system and fix a coolant leak.

The pair trained extensively for this intricate operation on the ground. It will involve cutting and splicing eight cooling tubes, connecting them to the new system and reconnecting a myriad of power and data cables. It is the first time astronauts will cut and reconnect cooling lines in orbit.

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