UAE astronaut trains for spacewalking rescue scenarios ahead of Friday mission

He, along with a colleague, spent Monday checking their spacesuits for leaks and proper fit verification


Nandini Sircar

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Published: Mon 24 Apr 2023, 11:26 PM

Last updated: Tue 25 Apr 2023, 12:13 AM

UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi wore a set of virtual reality goggles and trained for a variety of unlikely spacewalking rescue scenarios ahead of his scheduled spacewalk on Friday.

He, along with his colleague Flight Engineer Stephen Bowen of Nasa, spent their Monday checking their spacesuits for leaks and proper fit verification with assistance from Nasa Flight Engineer Woody Hoburg.

This was revealed by experts during the International Space Station (ISS) Spacewalk preview news conference on Nasa TV that was held at the Johnson Space Centre.

Hoburg, along with Nasa Flight Engineer Frank Rubio, will assist the astronauts in and out of their spacesuits and monitor their spacewalk on the actual day.

The agency said it will provide live coverage of the spacewalk beginning at 3.45pm GST on Friday.

Lead EVA (extravehicular activities) Flight Director for the upcoming mission, Scott Stover said: “Our lead spacewalker is Steve Bowen. This will be his eighth EVA, so he's quite experienced. His seven previous EVAs happened on shuttle missions, spanning from 2008 to 2011. We're very excited to have such an experienced crew member as a spacewalker. Our second spacewalker is Sultan. This being his first flight, it will be his first spacewalk as well. We're very excited for Sultan and our Emirati friends, giving them this opportunity for a great experience.”

He added: “Moving inside the vehicle, flight engineer Woody Hoburg will be the person who’ll help both Steve and Sultan get suited up in the morning and then doff their suits at the end of the day. Then Frank Rubio will be our M1 or our mobile servicing system operator number one. He is responsible for controlling the Canadarm robotic arm in moving Steve around.”

Tasks for the upcoming EVA

Elucidating on the tasks, Stover said: “The ISS is in the process of upgrading its power channels with new solar arrays. Specifically, the channel 1A and 1B both have already installed modification kits or support structure for these new solar arrays. What we really want to do on this EVA is prepare for the upcoming summer EVAs that will install those new solar arrays. What we will do specifically is route some power cables and then we will tidy up some insulation that's on those modification structures to make sure that no bare metal is being shown or anything and everything's in a good configuration. And then finally we'll move some foot restraints around that will be used on those future spacewalks.

“The second major task is bringing in that radio frequency group or RFG inside the space station. The programme has asked us to bring that one home so it can be refurbished and the only way to do that is through a SpaceX cargo dragon. So, this needs to be brought from the outside to inside the space station to be stowed on that cargo Dragon.”

Shedding light on the back up team who endeavour behind the scenes, Sandra Fletcher, US Spacewalk 86 lead officer, said: “I've also got a fantastic team backing me up. I do want to recognise it was a huge team effort. There is an army of people that go through the hardware owners, the engineers, the robotics people. Lots of people work together to get this EVA ready and I believe we're in great shape for executing it on Friday.”

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