ISS Astronauts Gear Up for Third Spacewalk

ISS Astronauts Gear Up for Third Spacewalk
Astronaut Sunita Williams, Expedition 14 flight engineer, participates in the second of three sessions of extravehicular activity (EVA) in nine days, as construction continues on the International Space Station. (Image credit: NASA.)

The commander of the International SpaceStation (ISS) is aiming for the all-time U.S.spacewalking record as he and a fellow astronautprepare to venture outside their orbital laboratory for the thirdtime in nine days.

ISS Expedition14 commander MichaelLopez-Alegria will snag the U.S. spacewalking title about four hoursinto today's planned 6.5-hour extravehicular activity (EVA) to discard a seriesof protective ISS equipment covers and perform other tasks [videooverview].

Lopez-Alegria is due to exit the ISS the ninth of hisNASA astronaut career - with fellow U.S.astronaut and Expedition 14 flight engineer SunitaWilliams at 9:00 a.m. EST (1400 GMT), rounding out a U.S. spacewalk tripleplay that began with station cooling system upgrades on Sundayand Jan.31 [image].Expedition 14 flight engineer MikhailTyurin will help the spacewalkers don their spacesuits, and monitor theactivity from inside the ISS.

"They've far exceeded my expectations," Derek Hassmann,NASA's lead Expedition 14 flight director for the spacewalks, said of thespacewalking crew after the Sunday excursion.

The three U.S. Expedition 14 spacewalks are the most densely-packedseries of ISS EVAs to date without a visiting NASA shuttle mission. A fourthspacewalk to stow a jammed navigationantenna on a Russian-builtcargo ship is set for Feb. 22.

Gunning for the record

With eight spacewalks, 54 hours and42 minutes of EVA work under his belt, Lopez-Alegria has nearly caught up withNASA's current-all-time spacewalker Jerry Ross, who racked up 58 hours and 32minutes in nine spacewalks.

The world spacewalking title isfirmly in the grasp of Russian cosmonaut Anatoly Solovyev, who staged 16 career spacewalks for a total ofabout 82 hours and 22 minutes.

Williams has already set her own spacewalking record. During Sunday's EVA, Williams surpassed NASA astronaut Kathryn Thornton as the mostexperienced female spacewalker of all time on Sunday with three EVAs and 22 hours, 37 minutes of work outside a spacecraft[image].

During today's planned spacewalk,Lopez-Alegria will wear a spacesuit marked with red stripes while Williams donsan all-white NASA spacesuit [image].

Busy to-do list

The Expedition 14 spacewalkers'Thursday tasks include removing protective thermal shrouds from a pair ofRotary Joint Motor Controllers on the space station's Port 3 (P3) truss.

They'll then haul in a pair ofunneeded, expansive sun shades - each larger than a king-size bed sheet - andwrap them up into bundles smaller than an outdoor garbage can before tossingthem overboard.

Lopez-Alegria and Williams are alsoslated to deploy attachment devices for a future spare parts platform on the P3truss before heading up to the station's space shuttle docking port on thePressurized Mating Adapter-2 at the tip of the U.S.Destiny laboratory [image].There, they are to do complete wiring up a power transfer system that willallow NASA shuttles to make longer trips to the ISS by drawing on the station'spower system rather than their own fuel cells, NASA officials said.

During Sunday's spacewalk,Lopez-Alegria and Williams completed part of the wiring work but ultimately ranout of time before they finished.

"I think the bottom line is that weprobably don't have the resources to get the whole task done," Lopez-Alegriasaid as spacesuit supplies ran low near the end of Sunday's spacewalk.

Today's spacewalk will mark the 80thEVA dedicated to the ISS assembly or maintenance, and push total spacewalkingtime outside the orbital laboratory past the 490-hour mark at full duration.

The thirdof four Expedition 14 spacewalks is scheduled begin at 9:00 am. EST (1400 GMT)on Thursday, Feb. 8, and will be broadcast live on NASA TV.

  • VIDEO: Expedition 14 Feb. 8 Spacewalk Overview
  • VIDEO: Expedition 14 Feb. 4 Spacewalk Overview
  • VIDEO: Expedition 14 Jan. 31 Spacewalk Overview
  • ISS Crew Prepares for Record Setting Spacewalks
  • Complete Coverage: ISS Expedition 14
  • All About the International Space Station

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.