An important spacewalk outside the International Space Station
is scheduled for next week, that NASA hopes will provide some
answers regarding a mysterious problem with a solar array joint.
Station Commander Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineer Dan Tani will
perform the 100th spacewalk in support of ISS assembly on Tuesday,
December 18. They will inspect the starboard Solar Alpha Rotary
Joint (SARJ) and the Beta Gimbal Assembly (BGA).
The SARJ and BGA have been temporarily locked in place while the
solar arrays still produce power. Whitson and Tani completed a
procedure review on Friday and held a tagup with the lead spacewalk
officer on the ground.
Kirk Shireman, station program deputy manager called the
spacewalk a "fact-finding mission." The spacewalkers will report
back to ground controllers what they find and return a trundle
assembly back inside the station. Specialists on the ground will
use the results to determine how to restore the starboard solar
array's sun-tracking capability.
A move of the Mobile Transporter to worksite 4 in the center of
the station's truss Friday from worksite 7 -- to provide
micrometeoroid debris protection to the spacewalkers -- was
postponed Friday after station cameras detected what appeared to be
a piece of insulation on the truss track. Flight controllers
continue to analyze the situation, according to NASA.