ISS

EVA Suit Electrical Issue Cuts Spacewalk Short

All is not well with the spacesuits aboard the ISS.

Yesterday, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev was instructed by Roscosmos ground control to “drop everything and go back” to the ISS when he was three hours into a spacewalk. The issue: a flaw in the Orlan EVA suit’s electrical system that caused an unexpected drop in the suit’s battery levels.

  • Artemyev was able to return safely to the airlock and connect with station power. “I think we need some solar panels on the Orlans,” he said after returning.
  • After the spacewalk was safely terminated and both Artemyev and fellow crew member Denis Matveev were back aboard the station, NASA wrote in a blog post that Artemyev “was never in any danger.”

Suits are made for walking: The two cosmonauts had ventured out to make upgrades to the European Robotic Arm, which has been aboard the station. They successfully installed two cameras and removed thermal insulation and a launch restraint. After Artemyev was instructed to return to the station, cosmonaut Sergey Korsakov returned the arm to its correct position from inside the station, and Matveev ended his spacewalk early.

Getting up in age: The Russian Orlan suit isn’t the only one that’s had issues recently. On a spacewalk in March, ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer came back from a spacewalk with water in his helmet, and in May, NASA paused all its spacewalks off the ISS.

  • Russia uses its own spacesuits on the ISS and didn’t pause spacewalks when NASA did.

On NASA’s end, new in-house and commercial EVA suits are in the works. NASA is building its own through the Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU) program, and recently contracted Axiom and Collins to build their own versions. 

The upshot: Though Roscosmos has announced its intentions to leave the ISS to build its own space station after 2024, NASA is still set on extending the outpost’s operations through 2030. One way or another, the partner agencies are going to need the EVA suits in working order to maintain the station in the coming years.

Related Stories
ISSPolarisPolicy

A Government Roadmap to Support CLDs

The government needs to consider regulations for commercial space stations as the private sector prepares to take the reins from the ISS, according to a report from the Beyond Earth Institute. 

CivilISSLEO

ESA Inks a Starlab Partnership

ESA is exploring its options for life after the ISS. 

ISSTechnology

SpiderOak Demonstrates Cybersecurity on the ISS

SpiderOak demoed its OrbitSecure cybersecurity platform aboard the ISS last month, the company announced this morning, setting the stage for a future in which data can be securely shared in space by civil and defense customers.  The demo used an AWS Snowcone edge computing platform supplied by Axiom Space, and involved transmitting data back and […]

BusinessISS

Voyager and Airbus Team Up To Replace The ISS

Two major space companies are joining forces to make a commercial successor to the ISS a reality.  On Tuesday, Voyager Space and Airbus Defence and Space announced a joint venture to build and operate Starlab, a LEO space station designed by Nanoracks, a department of Voyager Space.  “The International Space Station is widely regarded as […]