Watching a maintenance person live stream his or her work for several hours seems like a waste of bandwidth. But if those maintenance people are in space patching up the International Space Station? Completely different.
Earlier today, at 8:02 a.m. EDT, NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano exited the ISS via the Quest airlock and flipped their spacesuits to battery power, officially beginning their space walk. Their walk is scheduled to be streamed for the duration of their estimated 6.5 hour excursion. The stream switches between the astronauts' point of view and shots of Houston's Mission Control Center.
This is the first spacewalk of Parmitano's career, as well as the first spacewalk among all Italian astronauts. For Cassidy, it may as well just be another Tuesday, as this is his fifth spacewalk.
Several of the tasks that the two astronauts are working on revolve around getting rid of old or broken equipment attached to the outside of the ISS including:
- One Space-to-Ground Transmitter Receiver Controller, responsible for transmitting video and data
- Two radiator grapple bars to better deal with broken thermal radiators
- The Mobile Base Camera Light Pan-Tilt Assembly, which was used to monitor other spacecraft visiting the ISS
In addition to giving the space station a good pruning, Cassidy will begin rerouting power to prepare the ISS for a new laboratory module. The new addition, named Nauka, will include another research facility, docking port, and airlock.
Though the astronauts are dealing with equipment that costs millions of dollars, they're essentially checking chores off of their to-do list that the ISS has been meaning to get around to doing. Astronauts, they're just like us.