At a scheduled meeting on Friday morning, the Mission Management Team for the International Space Station decided to go ahead with the third spacewalk on Sunday morning, as scheduled. This follows a review of preparations for the spacewalk, and analysis of the water seepage into the helmet of the spacesuit worn by astronaut Terry Virts on the second spacewalk on February 25.
NASA engineers determined that the water found in the helmet at the conclusion of the second spacewalk on Wednesday was due to condensation, and not a cause for concern. The condensation occurred as the airlock was being repressurized after Virts’ return. The amount of water found in the helmet – 15 milliliters – does not pose any danger. Virts had reported that the water had a chemical taste.
This is an older suit and has manifested a similar problem before. It is regarded as a feature of the suit, and the astronauts and mission control will make allowances for it. Spacewalk experts have a high degree of confidence in the suit and made sure that all systems are functioning well before giving the green light for the spacewalk to go ahead.
The spacewalks have been preparing the ISS to receive commercial space flights, expected to begin later this year. The astronauts will install cables and antennae to help commercial spacecraft from Boeing and Space X navigate to and dock at the space station.
EVA # 31 will commence on Sunday, March 1 at around 6.10 am Central Time and will last about six hours. NASA will be live streaming the third spacewalk and it can be seen here.
For Sunday’s spacewalk, Virts will be designated Extravehicular crew member 1 (EV1) and will be wearing the white spacesuit with the red stripes. Wilmore will be EV2 and will wear the white spacesuit without stripes.
Until then, spacewalk junkies can play the Station Spacewalk Game to experience for themselves the thrill of working outside the space station.