Two astronauts from the International Space Station (ISS) are making a spacewalk today and the event is going to be live streamed across the world.
The two astronauts, Nasa’s Mark Vande Hei and Norishige Kanai from the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa) are taking part in the live spacewalk today, known as Expedition 54.
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They are going to be moving components from the ISS’s robotic system into long-term storage.
The live stream will begin broadcasting on Nasa TV at 10.30 London time. The live spacewalk will begin at around 12.10 London time.
What was said:
Nasa explained how Expedition 54 will work, saying:
“They will move a Latching End Effector (LEE), or hand, for the Canadian-built robotic arm, Canadarm2, from a payload attachment on the station’s Mobile Base System rail car to the Quest airlock.
“This LEE was replaced during an Expedition 53 spacewalk in October 2017 and will be returned to Earth to be refurbished and returned to the orbiting laboratory as a spare.
“They also will move an ageing, but functional, LEE that was removed during a January 23 spacewalk from its temporary storage outside the airlock to a long-term storage location where it will be available as a spare part on the Mobile Base System, which is used to move the arm and astronauts along the station’s truss structure.”
Why it matters:
Expedition 54 is Kanai’s first spacewalk and he will be the fourth Japanese astronaut to walk in space.
As well his is the third spacewalk ISS astronauts have taken this year. The last spacewalk, which Vande took part in, lasted over eight hours.
However, the days are counting down for Nasa’s time on the ISS. US president Trump wants to put an end to US funding for the ISS by 2025.
According to the White House proposal:
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“The budget proposes to end direct US financial support for the ISS in 2025, after which Nasa would rely on commercial partners for its low Earth orbit research and technology demonstration requirements.”
The US government wants to create a $150m programme. This will help private companies take over the operations of the space station over the next seven years.
This is good news for the likes of Tesla founder Elon Musk and Amazon’s head Jeff Bezos, as the two are competing to change the private space industry.
The ISS was first launched into space in 1998. Since then, the development and assembly of the station continue is ongoing. It’s likely the station will be in use until 2028.
Nasa describes the ISS as much as a human achievement as a technological one, because of the global cooperation needed to keep the station up and running.
There are five main space agencies that operate and run the ISS: US’s Nasa; the Russian space agency, Roscosmos; the European Space Agency, ESA; Jaxa; and Canada’s space agency, CSA.
“The ISS has been the most politically complex space exploration program ever undertaken,” says Nasa.
If the US pulls its funding from the ISS, it could be detrimental to the relations between the different agencies.