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Watch Live Now! Astronauts Tackling Tough Repair Spacewalk at Space Station

Two astronauts are taking one of the most complicated spacewalks in NASA history today (Nov. 15) to revive an ailing $2 billion experiment on the International Space Station and you can watch it live online.

European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano, the station's Expedition 61 commander, and NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan are expected to spend. 6.5 hours working outside the orbiting lab on the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a sophisticated cosmic ray detector designed to seek out antimatter and dark matter. It's the first of at least four spacewalks planned to repair the instrument, which has a coolant leak and needs a new cooling system.

From NASA:

Two astronauts will venture outside the International Space Station for a series of complex spacewalks this month and next to repair the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS), a cosmic ray detector.

At least four spacewalks currently are planned before the end of this year, the first of which will be conducted Friday, Nov. 15. Dates for the other spacewalks are under review and will be scheduled in the near future.

NASA will provide detailed plans of the spacewalks during a pair of back-to-back briefings at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston beginning at 2 p.m. EST Tuesday, Nov. 12. The briefings and coverage of each spacewalk, which will begin at 5:30 a.m., will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

Over the course of the spacewalks, Expedition 61 Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) and NASA Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan will replace a cooling system and fix a coolant leak on AMS, which was delivered to the station in May 2011. The upgraded cooling system will support AMS through the lifetime of the space station.

These spacewalks are considered the most complex of their kind since the Hubble Space Telescope servicing missions, which took place between 1993 and 2009. The AMS originally was designed for a three-year mission and, unlike Hubble, was not designed to be serviced once in space. More than 20 unique tools were designed for the intricate repair work, which will include the cutting and splicing of eight cooling tubes to be connected to the new system, and reconnection of a myriad of power and data cables. Astronauts have never cut and reconnected fluid lines during a spacewalk.

Parmitano and Morgan have spent dozens of hours training specifically for the AMS repair spacewalks. NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir will help Parmitano and Morgan suit up for the spacewalks and will maneuver the Canadarm2 robotic arm to help position the spacewalkers around the AMS repair worksite. Parmitano has conducted two spacewalks in his career and Morgan has logged three spacewalks since his arrival on the station in July.

AMS – whose principal investigator is Nobel laureate physicist Samuel Ting – was constructed and tested, and is operated by an international team of 56 institutes from 16 countries organized under U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science sponsorship. AMS has been capturing high-energy cosmic rays to help researchers answer fundamental questions about the nature of antimatter, the unseen "dark matter" that makes up most of the mass in the universe, and the even-more-mysterious dark energy that is speeding up the expansion of the cosmos. AMS is managed by the AMS Integration Project Office at Johnson.

For more information about the International Space Station, its research, and crew, visit:

Live HD Views of Earth from Space

You can watch live, high-definition views of Earth from the International Space Station thanks to NASA's High Definition Earth Viewing experiment (HDEV). This live video provides alternating views from four of the station's external cameras nearly 24/7, with the exception of regular and temporary dropouts that occur when the station switches its connection between different communications satellites. Watch it live in the window above, courtesy of NASA TV. 

From NASA:

"Behold, the Earth! See live views of Earth from the International Space Station coming to you by NASA's High Definition Earth Viewing (HDEV) experiment.

"While the experiment is operational, views will typically sequence through the different cameras. If you are seeing a black image, the Space Station is on the night side of the Earth. If you are seeing an image with text displayed, the communications are switching between satellites and camera feeds are temporarily unavailable. Between camera switches, a black & gray slate will also briefly appear.

"The experiment was activated on April 30, 2014 and is mounted on the External Payload Facility of the European Space Agency’s Columbus module. This experiment includes several commercial HD video cameras aimed at the Earth which are enclosed in a pressurized and temperature controlled housing. To learn more about the HDEV experiment, visit:

"Please note: The HDEV cycling of the cameras will sometimes be halted, causing the video to only show select camera feeds. This is handled by the HDEV team, and is only scheduled on a temporary basis. Nominal video will resume once the team has finished their scheduled event."

'ISS Live!' Tune in to the International Space Station

Find out what the astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station are up to by tuning in to the "ISS Live" broadcast. Hear conversations between the crew and mission controllers on Earth and watch them work inside the U.S. segment of the orbiting laboratory. When the crew is off duty, you can enjoy live views of Earth from Space. You can watch and listen in the window below, courtesy of NASA.

From NASA:

"Live video from the International Space Station includes internal views when the crew is on-duty and Earth views at other times. The video is accompanied by audio of conversations between the crew and Mission Control. This video is only available when the space station is in contact with the ground. During 'loss of signal' periods, viewers will see a blue screen.

"Since the station orbits the Earth once every 90 minutes, it experiences a sunrise or a sunset about every 45 minutes. When the station is in darkness, external camera video may appear black, but can sometimes provide spectacular views of lightning or city lights below." 

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(Image credit: All About Space magazine)

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