NASA stages spacewalk to hook up European experiment platform

Two astronauts working outside the International Space Station Wednesday installed a European Space Agency data relay antenna and connected four of six cables to partially power a new ESA experiment platform. They also removed two solar array handling fixtures to clear the way for a future power system upgrade.

But the two cables they were unable to connect to the Bartolomeo platform, attached to the front side of ESA’s Columbus laboratory module, will need to be connected later to accommodate a full suite of external payloads.

“At least we got partially connected to Bartolomeo,” European astronaut Andreas Mogensen radioed the crew from mission control in Houston.

Astronaut Mike Hopkins makes his way to a worksite on the European Space Agency’s Columbus laboratory module where he and fellow spacewalker Victor Glover plan to attach a new data relay antenna. The astronauts also plan to connect power and data cables to a European experiment platform and make preparations for future solar array upgrades. NASA TV

Floating in the Quest airlock, astronauts Mike Hopkins and Victor Glover switched their suits to battery power at 6:28 a.m. EST to officially kick off the 233rd spacewalk in station history and the first so far this year. It was the third spacewalk for Hopkins and the first for Glover.

After floating out of the airlock, Glover attached a foot restraint to the end of the space station’s robot arm and rode the space crane to the European Space Agency’s Columbus module where he and Hopkins installed a high-speed Ka-band data relay antenna.

Flight controllers initially had problems activating a heater in the antenna, but after Hopkins unplugged and re-connected a power cable, the system began working normally.

The spacewalkers then worked to route cables and to connect the Bartolomeo experiment platform to the Columbus module, providing power and data relay to experiment and instrument attachment points

Bartolomeo was delivered to the station last spring aboard a SpaceX cargo ship and attached to Columbus using the robot arm. The platform will be used to mount a variety of external experiment packages that can be changed out as needed for research.

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