Astronaut’s medical concern prompts NASA to name off Tuesday’s spacewalk

A spacewalk at the International Space Station (ISS) planned for Tuesday, August 24, has been postponed due a medical issue affecting one of the two participating astronauts.
The space agency announced the news on Monday, explaining that NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei, who arrived at the orbiting outpost in April 2021, was experiencing a “minor medical issue,” adding that it was “not a medical emergency.”
With spacewalks requiring astronauts to work in a bulky spacesuit in a challenging environment for around seven hours at a time, those taking part have to be in tip-top condition before stepping outside the confines of the space station.
The spacewalk, which Vande Hei will carry out with Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, will now take place after the SpaceX CRS-23 cargo resupply launch that’s planned for August 28, and also following two scheduled spacewalks involving Russian cosmonauts that are expected to take place in early September.
Vande Hei isn’t scheduled to depart the ISS until March 2022, so there’s plenty of time for him to conduct the spacewalk. But it’s a little tighter for Hoshide, who’s set to leave in early November 2021. Still, the postponed walk could take place as early as mid- to late September.
Tuesday’s postponed spacewalk would have seen the two astronauts continue work to upgrade the station’s power system with the installation of a support bracket for new rollout arrays. Two of the new arrays have already been put in place, with another four awaiting installation.
Both Vande Hei and Hoshide spent the last week preparing for the spacewalk — or extravehicular activity to use NASA’s official terminology for such events — inclusing checking their spacesuits, setting up their tools, and reviewing procedures for the excursion.
According to a tweet (below) from the ISS Twitter account, the preparations were going according to plan as of Saturday, August 21. But some time after that, Vande Hei suffered a medical issue that prompted NASA to take action.

The Exp 65 crew goes into the weekend preparing for Tuesday's spacewalk while juggling a multitude of space research. https://t.co/K6HMCDxhjs
— International Space Station (@Space_Station) August 20, 2021
As soon as we get news of a new date for the spacewalk, we’ll be sure to update our “how to watch” page detailing everything you need to know about how to tune in to the event in real time.
In the meantime, check out these stunning images of spacewalks from over the years.

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Watch astronaut’s tour of the area station’s latest module

Astronaut Thomas Pesquet has given a tour of the latest module to arrive at the International Space Station (ISS).
Russia’s Nauka Multipurpose Logistics Module (MLM) hit the headlines in July when its thrusters unexpectedly fired up shortly after docking, temporarily knocking the space station out of alignment.
The worrying situation was quickly brought under control, and this week Pesquet showed space fans inside the module for the first time.

Je vous fais visiter notre tout nouveau module scientifique à bord de la Station : MLM !.Join me on a tour of the @Space_Station's newest (and possibly most dramatic 😉) module – MLM. @iss_research @roscosmos #MissionAlpha pic.twitter.com/keun7Dk2pw
— Thomas Pesquet (@Thom_astro) August 17, 2021
Nauka will function as a science facility, docking port, and spacewalk airlock, mainly for the Russian cosmonauts aboard the ISS. It replaced the outdated Pirs module that arrived at the station shortly after astronauts started living and working aboard the orbiting outpost two decades ago.
Pesquet, who’s been on board the ISS since April 2021, begins the tour by floating through several sections of the main part of the space station to reach the entrance to Nauka.
Upon entering, the French astronauts notes the smoke-like odor, which rather than being something to worry about is actually a characteristic of newly arrived modules, apparently the result of exposure to the sun’s heat.
Pesquet is also quick to point out the location of Nauka’s toilet. “It will be our third toilet,” he says, adding, “It might sound random, but this is something you have to think about when you’re in space, and with longer [missions] and bigger crews on board the space station, we have to come up with solutions, and this is part of it.”
The astronaut shows us the module’s numerous science racks that will be used for experiments, adding that the new facility will also house the control panel for operating the recently arrived European Robotic Arm on the outside of the ISS.
Nauka also includes an astronaut cabin that includes “all modern conveniences,” Pesquet says, though he was unable to show us inside as it’s still full of equipment that needs to be sorted.
Finally, at the far end of the module we get to see Nauka’s docking ring for incoming spacecraft, as well as a small hatch for sending science experiments outside of the ISS, and a “rather big” window for views of Earth 250 miles below. No doubt Pesquet will soon be returning to Nauka with his camera to add to his growing collection of stunning Earth shots.

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