Spacewalking astronaut copes with frayed tether, bad jetpack (Update)

Spacewalking astronaut copes with frayed tether, bad jetpack (Update)
In this image from video made available by NASA, astronaut Joe Acaba performs a spacewalk outside the International Space Station on Friday, Oct. 20, 2017. Acaba was barely outside an hour when he had to replace one of his safety tethers. Spacewalking astronauts always have more than one of these crucial lifelines in case one breaks. They also wear a jetpack in case all tethers fail and they need to fly back to the space station. (NASA via AP)

A spacewalking astronaut successfully replaced a blurry camera outside the International Space Station on Friday, but had to contend with a balky jetpack and a frayed safety tether.

Both jetpacks and safety ties are crucial for saving a flyaway astronaut.

NASA said Joe Acaba was always securely attached to the orbiting outpost and never in any danger during the nearly seven-hour spacewalk.

But one of his tethers had to be replaced shortly after he and station commander Randy Bresnik floated outside. Mission Control noticed the red lifeline was frayed and worn. Bresnik went back to the air lock to get Acaba a spare.

Then five hours into the spacewalk, Mission Control saw that the right handle on Acaba's emergency jetpack was popped open—again. Bresnik once more went to his crewmate's assistance, even offering some tape to keep it down.

After consulting for several minutes in Houston, flight controllers declared the jetpack unreliable and ordered Acaba back inside, once he was done greasing the new robot arm on the space station's big robot arm. He finished the lube job, then headed in.

Bresnik acknowledged things didn't go as planned, "with all the stuff that happened today and the challenges we had." But he thanked everyone for their hard work and diligence.

Spacewalking astronaut copes with frayed tether, bad jetpack (Update)
In this image from video made available by NASA, astronaut Joe Acaba performs a spacewalk outside the International Space Station on Friday, Oct. 20, 2017. The 250-mile-high complex is currently home to three Americans, two Russians and one Italian. (NASA via AP)

In the end, only a couple minor chores were left undone.

"Great work today," Mission Control radioed as the spacewalk came to a close.

It was the third spacewalk in two weeks for U.S. astronauts. Bresnik went out on all three; he was accompanied by Mark Vande Hei to install the new robotic hand on Oct. 5 and lubricate it on Oct. 10.

Each spacewalker wears a jetpack for use in an emergency. It's available in case an astronaut's multiple tethers fail and allows the spacewalker to fly back to the station. It's been tested by orbiting astronauts—years ago—but never called into urgent action.

Earlier, Acaba provided necessary focus to the space station's robot arm.

He unbolted a blurry camera from the new robotic hand installed two weeks ago. He then popped in a spare, which flight controllers quickly tested from Houston. The replacement provided crisp, clear views.

Sharp focus is essential when the space station's robot hand grabs an arriving supply ship and anchors it. The next delivery is a few weeks away, prompting the quick camera swap-out.

Spacewalking astronaut copes with frayed tether, bad jetpack (Update)
This still image provided by NASA shows astronaut Joe Acaba during a spacewalk at the International Space Station on Friday, Oct. 20, 2017. Commander Randy Bresnik floated accompanied by Acaba, teacher-turned-astronaut . Their main job is to replace a blurry camera on the new robotic hand that was installed by spacewalkers two weeks ago. (NASA via AP)

Orbital ATK, one of NASA's commercial shippers, plans to launch a cargo ship from Virginia on Nov. 11.

Acaba and the station's commander, Randy Bresnik, were supposed to go spacewalking earlier this week. But NASA needed extra time to add the camera repair to their chores.

Friday's spacewalk—expected to be the last one for the year—also saw the astronauts installing a high-definition camera, replacing a fuse and removing thermal insulation from spare electronics. Early next year, astronauts will replace the hand on the opposite side of the 58-foot robot arm, Canada's main contribution to the space station. The original latching mechanisms are showing wear and tear since the arm's launch in 2001.

The 250-mile-high complex is currently home to three Americans, two Russians and one Italian.

A one-time high school and middle school teacher, Acaba is the first astronaut of Puerto Rican heritage; his parents were born there. He ventured out on Friday's spacewalk as the station soared above the hurricane-ravaged island, where much of his extended family lives.

"There's a whole line of people looking up and smiling today as you get ready to head out the door," Bresnik told him.

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US astronauts begin third October spacewalk to repair ISS robotic arm

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User comments

Oct 20, 2017
3d bioprinting = Immortality = go to stars

Oct 20, 2017
...interstellar travel constant acceleration (Sun-Deneb: 1000g)... Earth...the 2 ships that will go formation flying for mutual assisting if there are problems...indestructible structures made of Hexapentas material, awaiting in airport the arrival of passengers... Day 1: zero-speed... THE SHIPS TAKEOFF►... navigation computer places on screen the spacecraft in the center of sphere...spherical\tridimensional\spatial Heading: Deneb... Antimatter rocket engines...ON... Here we go...goooooo!...1g...10g...100g...constant acceleration cruise: 1000g (9.8 kms/sec²)... Inside the living areas (the same as going submerged in water: constant acceleration downwards...less...constant thrust, constant acceleration, from water upwards)...the gravitational transformers, perfectly synchronized with the acceleration, running:

Oct 20, 2017
"Acaba is the first astronaut of Puerto Rican heritage"

Far more interested in his abilities than his ethnicity.

Oct 21, 2017
See this is how we learn. Problems like this can be much worse on a flight to mars or the outer planets.

This is why the ISS was built - to learn how to build structures like this in space, and then to occupy them for as long ass possible to see what works and what does not.

This is far more important than anything we might do while occupying it.

Oct 21, 2017
Wow, neato, frayed tether AND a jetpack problem?



Not exactly the trip to the stars anyone had in mind... kinda the long way home. Just sayin'. Congratulations to the brave astronauts for grace under pressure.

Oct 21, 2017
How does a tether get frayed in a zero G environment?

Oct 21, 2017
How does a tether get frayed in a zero G environment?
"zero G" doesn't mean something never comes into contact with anything else

nor does it mean things cant age or show wear from use

and all that ignores the exposure issue completely, which can accelerate wear (you know, like exposure to sunlight on earth with tires or hoses?)

ahhh... wait
i forgot who i was talking to...

Oct 22, 2017
Nobel Prize physiology 2017... 3D Bioprinting-Immortality (biological timers)... Forever young with modified Biological Timers... Which are the biological timers?, where are them? (genes, hypothalamus...), how functioning them?, how can modify them (telomerase...) for maintenance the hormones production, enzymes, cellular regeneration...all Eternity at same level of the 18 years old?... Have to accelerate Research about Memory and the Space´s Colonization... Immortality comes...

Oct 22, 2017
"frayed tether"
They don't check their gear before they head out?

Oct 22, 2017
I doubt NASA makes woven tethers that unravel when frayed.
Someone has been watching too many Hollywood action movies involving frayed ropes and cliff edges.
And yes they do pre-check, and asses risks, when their lives depend on it.

Though this story, and the ones about water leaking into helmets, do indicate its time to retire some gear and spend some of the contingency budget.

Oct 25, 2017
"Acaba is the first astronaut of Puerto Rican heritage"

Far more interested in his abilities than his ethnicity.

While having no problem about that, I was puzzled too with having that read here and in this context. It seems to me more appropriate for some general news portal or some local Puerto Rican news outlet. Here, I see no point nor purpose in such information.
But, ok, everyone is human, some emotion driven the author to point that out, so, ok.

Oct 26, 2017
They went out to grease the arm. Man, having to put on a million dollar suit, and spend 5 hours in space, to grease the arm. Make with the robots already and the spinning stations so us normies can go to space too!

Nov 01, 2017
(4) (orbital station bike-wheel-1g)... also how Wheel´s supporting, instead of a rhombus, can be a narrow Rectangular structure ▄▄▄▄▄▄ of rigid girder with dimensions sides slightly majors than Wheel´s diameter and wide, e.g. Wheel´s diameter 500 mts and wide 50 mts...rectangle´s sides: 510 mts length, 60 mts wide. Rectangle with a cable/track (length=Wheel´s diameter) in each vertex, forming a long isosceles triangle ──────◄at both rectangle´s minor sides►─────.

Nov 06, 2017
...interstellar travel (immortals 2)... Cloning? to the Future...3D BIOPRINTING...your recorded Memory to the new body and...Immortality... For us is too soon for hook to the 1st Immortal Generation. Who knows...tucked in liquid nitrogen at 200 ºC below zero not can feel the passes of Time. When after 500 years make open your eyes again and someone say... Hello!!... you will believe that the Goodbye was just a moment ago... Where am I?...(applause, shouts, laughs...) in Biomedical Recovery Center. What day is today?... July 21 of 7,017; was selected, centuries ago, in a Planetary Convention the beginning of Bronze Age like true History starts... If I was...oh Goddess...give me a mirror...are you sure?...yes...aarrghghgg... Do not worry, at once we print a new body to your size. Take, choose in your Catalog. Let´s see...this to the "athletic" it´s right... Ok

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