Spacewalker’s Jetpack Bad; Ordered Inside
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA has decided a spacewalker’s jetpack isn’t reliable and ordered him back inside the International Space Station.
Mission Control told Joe Acaba that his jet pack was no longer considered usable. One of its handles kept popping out during Friday’s spacewalk. After several minutes of consultation, controllers in Houston finally declared the jetpack no-good, five hours into what was supposed to be a six-hour spacewalk.
Acaba was greasing the space station’s new robotic hand when he got the news. Just an hour earlier, he successfully replaced a blurry camera on the robot hand, the main task of the day.
NASA says Acaba’s safety tethers for keeping him attached to the orbiting complex are solid, and he’s in no danger.
The jetpack is used only if a spacewalker’s multiple tethers fail. The jetpack is worn on the astronaut’s back, and would enable a runaway astronaut to fly back to the space station.
Spacewalking astronauts are providing some necessary focus to the International Space Station’s robot arm.
Commander Randy Bresnik floated out Friday morning, accompanied by teacher-turned-astronaut Joe Acaba. Their main job is to replace a blurry camera on the new robotic hand that was installed by spacewalkers two weeks ago.
The two men were supposed to go spacewalking earlier this week, but NASA needed extra time to rustle up the repair plan.
Sharp focus is essential in order for the space station’s robot hand to capture an arriving supply ship. The next delivery is a few weeks away, prompting the quick camera swap-out.
Orbital ATK, one of NASA’s commercial shippers, plans to launch a cargo ship from Virginia on Nov. 11.