Two astronauts traveled outside the International Space Station (ISS) today at 7:10 a.m. EST (12:10 GMT) and spent 6.5 hours outside the station working. The whole event was streamed live on the NASA TV starting at 5:30 a.m. EST (10:30 GMT).
Mark Vande Hei from NASA and Norishige Kanai from the Japanese space agency had to go outside the ISS to relocate deteriorated LEEs (latching end effectors).
The purpose of this spacewalk
One of the LEE units was taken inside the ISS in order to be shipped to Earth inside a SpaceX Dragon Cargo Craft. The unit will be refurbished on Earth by the NASA engineers which will then send it back to the ISS.
The other LEE unit was placed in a storage location.
The mission was initially planned for January 29th
Initially, the mission outside the International Space Station was planned for January 29th but due to a software glitch in one LEE unit the ground controllers postponed the mission for February 15th.
However, NASA had to postpone the mission once again for one day only, this time, due to a delay in the launch of the Progress 69, a Russian cargo craft which needed to reach the ISS for resupply.
Fortunately, Progress 69 reached to ISS on Thursday morning and made it possible for the NASA and the ISS to successfully accomplish the spacewalk.
Even more, the NASA TV live streamed the whole mission since its prep-ups and until the moment when the astronauts got back safely into the ISS.
The future of ISS expeditions
The actual ISS expedition, the Expedition 54 will end for three of the 6 astronauts on ISS on February 28th. Mark Vande Hei (NASA), Joseph Acaba (NASA), and Alexander Misurkin (Russia) will return home later this month.
The next crew expedition to International Space Station is planned on March 21st and will send Andrew Feustel and Richard Arnold form NASA and Oleg Artemyev from the Russian space agency.