NASA postpones spacewalk as it would be too much of a pain in the neck for astronaut

ISS installation work to be carried out some other time


NASA on Tuesday postponed a spacewalk after one of the astronauts due to work outside the International Space Station had a “pinched nerve” in his neck.

US astronaut Mark Vande Hei and Japan's Akihiko Hoshide were hoping to step out into the void at 1230 UTC on August 24. The pair were instructed to install equipment along the spacecraft’s Integrated Truss Structure, the 108.5-metre-long pole that stretches across the length of the ISS, to support upgraded solar panels for the station.

But, alas, Vande Hei was suffering from a pinched nerve, which thwarted NASA’s plans. “This issue is not a medical emergency,” the American agency confirmed. “The spacewalk is not time-sensitive and crew members are continuing to move forward with other station work and activities.”

It’s not clear when the spacewalk will be rescheduled for; NASA said it’ll have to wait until after next week when the crew is expected to receive supplies in a SpaceX cargo capsule on the August 28.

“Thanks for everyone’s concern,” Vande Hei, a retired US Army colonel and West Point assistant professor of physics, said on Twitter. “I have a pinched nerve in my neck that caused us to reschedule today’s spacewalk … Today just wasn't the right day.”

Also up on the space station are Russian cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov, who will be venturing outside the ISS on September 3 and 6 to get the recently arrived Nauka module up and running.

The Nauka module docked on July 29, and made quite an entrance. Three hours after it arrived, a software blunder, the Russians said, caused its engines to unexpectedly fire, spinning the space lab one-and-a-half times. Thankfully, the rotation occurred very slowly and no one onboard was hurt. The ISS corrected its orientation soon after. ®

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