Aumated Spacewalk Transfre Vehicles

International Space Station crewmembers will start rolling out the welcome mat for the new Automated Transfer Vehicle with a spacewalk early Tuesday.

The ATV is an unpiloted cargo carrier like the Russian Progress supply vehicles, but has a cargo capacity about 2-1/2 times that of a Progress. During the Aug. 3 spacewalk Expedition 9 Commander Gennady Padalka and NASA ISS Science Officer Mike Fincke will install antennas and laser reflectors to help the ATV dock to the rear of the Zvezda Service Module.

Image to right: Expedition 9 NASA ISS Science Officer Mike Fincke checks out his Orlan spacesuit aboard the Station.

The European Space Agency’s (ESA) ATV is scheduled for its first launch in the fall of 2005 aboard an ESA Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana. In addition to carrying cargo, including fuel, water, oxygen and nitrogen, it also can reboost the Station. Like the Progress, the ATV will burn up when it re-enters the atmosphere.

The spacewalk is scheduled to last almost six hours and is to begin about 3:10 a.m. EDT. Spacewalkers will use the airlock of the Russian Pirs Docking Compartment and wear Russian Orlan spacesuits. Padalka, making his fifth spacewalk, will wear the suit with red stripes while Fincke, on his third spacewalk, will wear the suit with blue stripes.

The crewmembers will move to the rear of Zvezda, vacated by ISS Progress 14 on Friday. Their first task is to replace an SKK experiment container that exposes materials to the space environment and replace it with another. Next they will replace a Kromka experiment, which measures contamination from thruster firings.

Image to right: The Russian Kromka experiment located on the Station’s exterior, will be replaced during the spacewalk.

Then attention turns to ATV-related devices. Padalka and Fincke will install two antennas, then replace three laser reflectors with three more advanced versions than the ones launched with Zvezda in 2000. One three-dimensional reflector will replace three other old reflectors. Additional ATV preparations will be done during a subsequent spacewalk.

They’ll remove another materials experiment, Platan, and photograph the MPAC-SEEDS experiment, which studies micro-meteor impacts. Before returning to the airlock, they also will disconnect a cable to a camera that will be replaced in a future spacewalk.

Several U.S. tools will be used by the spacewalkers, including a body-restraint tether used in their most recent spacewalk, and a tool carrier.

This will be the 55th spacewalk for ISS assembly and maintenance. It is the 30th from the Station itself and the 12th from Pirs.