where to see her and what she wants to do

At 4pm today, Samantha Cristoforetti will perform her first extravehicular activity, known as a “spacewalk”. Here’s what it will do outside of the ISS.

At 4 p.m. Italian time today, Thursday, July 21, astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti will perform the first spacewalk of her career. She will also be the first European woman to perform. The Italian astronaut from the European Space Agency (ESA) will be accompanied by Russian cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev from ROSCOMOS, the Russian space agency. The two will remain outside the International Space Station (ISS) until seven o’clock, as ESA said in a press release.

The muted announcement of Cristoforetti’s groundbreaking extravehicular activity or EVA (Extra-vehicular activity, the technical name for space travel) was made by NASA in early July, following the “Official TV” program update from the US Aerospace Agency. The release of the astronaut and his Russian counterpart can be watched live on NASA TV and ESA Web TV, which will begin broadcasting from 1 p.m. 15.30.

Both Artemyev and Cristoforetti will wear the Russian Orlan costume. Normally, the Italian astronaut would have had to use an EMU, the spacecraft supplied to NASA and ESA, but since the end of May, the two space agencies have agreed to discontinue use, due to a new accident that has caused a dangerous accumulation of water in an astronaut’s helmet. The latest victim of the unfortunate accident is ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer, whose helmet found 25 centimeters of water despite the fungi that were inserted to avoid or limit this known defect. The most spectacular accident happened to Luca Parmitano in 2013, when more than one and a half liters of water got into his helmet, making it difficult for him to breathe. The Sicilian astronaut had to “rush” to the ISS to avoid drowning. These incidents were repeated (though to a lesser extent), and eventually it was decided to stop.

Orlan suits.  Credit: ESA

Orlan suits. Credit: ESA

For Cristoforetti, however, it will not be a problem to use Orlan, as she has already trained in Russia with this combination. To recognize the two astronauts during the recordings, it will be sufficient to observe the colors of the ribbons adorning the spacesuits; blue for the Italian astronaut, red for the ROSCOMOS cosmonaut. But what exactly will they do once outside the orbital laboratory? As specified in the ESA press release, the two astronauts will launch ten nano-satellites intended for the collection of electronic radio data, in addition, they will complete the work on the module airlock – Russian Nauka laboratory (MLM – Multipurpose Laboratory Module), also installed in 2021. as a mooring for pendulum speeds. New platforms and a modular workstation adapter will be placed.

The European robot arm.  Credit: ESA

The European robot arm. Credit: ESA

The main work concerns the completion of the installation of the European Robotic Arm, a telescopic arm that will guarantee support for future extravehicular activities. “Samantha will check that the arm’s camera unit protector is sharp enough for a laser to control the arm as it grips and moves,” ESA explains. “Again, Samantha is a pioneer,” astronaut Luca Parmitano told ANSA. “Thank you for your role in demonstrating to everyone, women and men, what determination and commitment to achieve a goal is,” he added, stressing that preparing for a spacewalk is very demanding and that the two astronauts have been training for a long time. time. to fine-tune the smallest details. Just wait for the ISS hatch exit.

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