A NASA astronaut had to deal with problems with a frayed tether and a bad jetpack as he conducted a treacherous spacewalk.
There was some high drama on the International Space Station on Friday, after a spacewalking astronaut had to deal with some major problems due to a bad jetpack and a frayed safety tether. Jetpacks and safety ties are critical for astronauts trying to maneuver during spacewalks and to avoid floating off into space, and astronaut Joe Acaba had to deal with problems with both.
Acaba was attached to the orbiting outpost and wasn’t in any danger during the spacewalk, which lasted seven hours, but one of the tethers had to be replaced shortly after he floated outside as Mission Control noticed the lifeline was frayed. And then five hours later during the spacewalk, Mission Control noticed the right handle on the emergency jetpack had popped open, prompting station commander Randy Bresnick to help him out.
However, back in Houston, flight controllers decided the jetpack was unreliable and told Acaba to return. Bresnik said while things didn’t go as planned, the crew acted professionally and handled it well.
“Over 150 ISS assembly spacewalks will be performed to complete the International Space Station, and NASA is determined to make sure that none of the astronauts end up lost in space,” NASA says on its website. “Spacewalks, or extravehicular activities (EVAs), are an important part of the assembly of the station. Unlike the Space Shuttle, the space station cannot maneuver to rescue a free-floating EVA crew member. Among the ways to ensure safety is the use of a device called Simplified Aid For EVA Rescue (SAFER). Essentially a “life jacket” for spacewalks, SAFER is a self-contained maneuvering unit that is worn like a backpack. The system relies on small nitrogen-jet thrusters to let an astronaut move around in space.”