A planned spacewalk to repair a faulty antenna on the International Space Station (ISS) has been postponed indefinitely, the United States space agency NASA says, citing a “debris notification” it received for the orbiting research laboratory.
Two US astronauts had been scheduled to venture outside the space station at 7:10am Eastern Time (12:10 GMT) on Tuesday to begin their work, facing what NASA officials had called a slightly elevated risk posed by debris from a Russian anti-satellite missile test this month.
But about five hours before the outing was to have commenced, NASA said on Twitter the spacewalk had been called off for the time being.
“NASA received a debris notification for the space station. Due to the lack of opportunity to properly assess the risk it could pose to the astronauts, teams have decided to delay the Nov. 30 spacewalk until more information is available,” the space agency tweeted.
In the tweet, NASA did not state how close debris had come to the space station – orbiting about 402km (250 miles) above the Earth – or whether it was related to the Russian missile test.
NASA TV had planned to provide live coverage of the 6-and-a-half-hour “extravehicular activity”, or EVA, operation by astronauts Thomas Marshburn and Kayla Brown. The outing would be the fifth spacewalk for Marshburn, 61, a medical doctor and former flight surgeon with two previous trips to orbit, and the first for Barron, 34, a US Navy submarine officer and nuclear engineer.
The objective is to remove a faulty S-band radio communications antenna assembly, now more than 20 years old, and replace it with a new spare stowed outside the space station.
According to plans, Marshburn was to have worked with Barron at the end of a robotic arm operated from inside the station by German astronaut Matthias Maurer of the European Space Agency, with help from NASA crewmate Raja Chari. (AlJazeera)