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Russian cosmonauts abort ISS spacewalk after suit power fluctuates
Imagine how much Apple would charge for a power lead that long
A spacewalk by a pair of cosmonauts working on the European robotic arm on the International Space Station ended prematurely due to battery power issues.
The purpose of the walk by Roscosmos astronauts Oleg Artemiev and Denis Matveev was to install cameras on the new arm, relocate an external control panel, remove launch restraints, and test a rigidizing mechanism. However, after the duo completed the camera work, "abnormal battery readings" showed up on Artemiev's Orlan spacesuit. Artemiev then quickly returned to the Poisk airlock so he could connect the ISS's power supply.
Matveev then followed his colleague after completing some clean-up activities outside the ISS while Sergey Korsakov, inside the station, placed the European robotic arm in a safe configuration.
Managers insisted that the cosmonaut was in no danger during the incident, although we'd contend that any spacewalk is dangerous – even without fluctuating power levels. After all, it's one thing for a laptop battery to pack up prematurely on Earth, but quite another for a spacesuit power supply to throw go wobbly during an EVA.
Because the duo did not manage to complete all their tasks, Roscosmos expects that the work will be finished with later spacewalks. The next by cosmonauts is scheduled for September 2, according to Russian media mouthpiece Tass.
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The exact nature of the problem remains unclear, although The Register understands that communications could have been interrupted and the ventilation system of the suit fail. The director of the Orlan suit manufacturer described the decision to terminate the spacewalk and plug back into the ISS as "timely."
Problems with spacesuits are nothing new thing for ISS crew members. NASA has struggled to get to the bottom of water ingress issues with its suits. Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano almost suffered the bizarre fate of drowning in space after water began to fill his helmet during a spacewalk in 2013.
As well as outfitting the European robotic arm, future spacewalks will also activate the airlock of the Nauka module. The European robotic arm will also be used move spacewalkers and payloads around the Russian segment.
Artemiev apparently joked that the Orlan suits could use some solar panels. Or maybe a trip to a Moscow hardware store for a really long extension lead before the next ISS resupply mission. ®