Two NASA Astronauts Go on Spacewalk to Repair Robotic Arm Outside ISS

NASA astronauts just finished their first spacewalk of 2018. This spacewalk was one of the final adjustments to a critical piece of the ISS.
Shelby Rogers

NASA and ISS engineers just kicked off a promising start to 2018 with the first spacewalk of the year in the books. Expedition 54 flight engineers Mark Vande Hei and NASA's Scott Tingle wrapped up the first spacewalk in just 7 hours and 24 minutes. 

The two men had to replace a Latching End Effector (LEE) on the ISS's robotic arm the Canadarm2. The mission seemed relatively simple, but the piece being replaced is vital to the ISS. The Canadarm 2 grabs onto the exterior of the station, can move objects throughout the outpost, or even grab and pull in a visiting spacecraft. It originally launched in 2001 during the Endeavour mission and was (as the name implies) built by Canadian engineers. 

This spacewalk is actually the 206th for the International Space Station. In total, spacewalkers and technicians have spent a total of 53 days, 13 hours, and 49 minutes outside the ISS since 1998. 

And there's still more to come. Vande Hei will go outside of the ISS once again on January 29. However, this time he'll have flight engineer Norishige Kanai from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to help him stow a latching end effector. The men are finalizing projects done through three of last year's spacewalks that occurred in October. 

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