Flight Engineers Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins continue preparing for a series of spacewalks to remove a failed pump module and install a spare pump module. NASA managers have planned for the first spacewalk to begin Saturday, the second on Monday and if necessary a third spacewalk on Christmas day.
Station Program Manager Mike Suffredini, Flight Director Dina Contella and lead spacewalk manager Allison Bolinger provided more details during a spacewalk briefing at Johnson Space Center.
Mastracchio has six spacewalks to his credit with 38 hours and 30 minutes of experience working outside a spacecraft. This will be Hopkins first spacewalk.
The last time a spacewalk took place on Christmas day was in 1973 during the Skylab 4 mission. NASA astronauts Gerald Carr and William Pogue stepped outside the Skylab space station to retrieve film from a telescope and photograph Comet Kohoutek.
Orbital Sciences is preparing to roll back their Antares rocket carrying the Cygnus commercial resupply craft back from the launch pad to its integration hangar. The Antares rolled out to the launch pad on Tuesday to protect for a planned Dec. 19 launch to deliver gear to the International Space Station. That launch has now slipped to no earlier than January so NASA can focus on replacing the pump module.
Commander Oleg Kotov and Flight Engineer Sergey Ryazanskiy are also preparing for a spacewalk. This is a pre-planned spacewalk scheduled for Dec. 27 outside the station’s Russian segment. The duo will install a foot restraint; install medium and high resolution cameras; jettison gear from a pair of external experiments; and install a new experiment as well as a payload boom on the Zvezda service module.