Two NASA astronauts will conduct a spacewalk previously scheduled for Tuesday (Nov. 30) on Thursday (Dec. 2) after the agency evaluated the risks posed by space debris.
NASA astronauts Thomas Marshburn and Kayla Barron were due to begin a spacewalk to replace an antenna system early Tuesday morning; the spacewalk was set to formally begin at 7:10 a.m. EST (1210 GMT) when the two crewmembers set their suits to run on battery power. However, six hours before that time, the agency decided to postpone the excursion due to concerns about space junk.
"After receiving additional information about a late notification debris event on Monday, NASA determined the orbit of the debris does not pose a risk to a scheduled spacewalk by Thomas Marshburn and Kayla Barron or to International Space Station operations," NASA officials wrote in a statement published late Tuesday. "Delaying the spacewalk provided an opportunity for NASA to evaluate the risk from the debris notification."
With NASA's concerns alleviated, the spacewalk is back on, this time targeting Thursday.
The agency has not provided any additional information about the debris in question. However, the rescheduling comes two weeks after the seven astronauts living and working on the International Space Station were forced to take shelter in their spaceships due to alerts about a cloud of orbital debris.
That debris became a threat shortly after the Russian military destroyed a defunct satellite in a test of antisatellite technology. During a news conference held on Monday (Nov. 29) to discuss the spacewalk, a NASA official said that the debris from this test increased the risk of a spacesuit puncture by 7%.
The spacewalk will be Barron's first and Marshburn's fifth; both astronauts arrived at the orbiting laboratory on Nov. 11 aboard the Crew-3 mission launched by SpaceX.