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Canadian astronaut takes 1st spacewalk

David Saint-Jacques is making changes for Canadarm2.



Eli Ridder | Report

Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques is taking his first spacewalk on the International Space Station Monday morning to make adjustments related to a mechanical arm made by Canada.

He is joined by U.S. counterpart AnneMcClain. The pair headed out around 8 a.m. to work on an alternative power source for the robotic arm and removing a defective piece so a battery can be installed later by a mechanical arm.

The cables to be installed by Saint-Jacques and McClain will allow the Canadarm2 to make repairs to the station without the need for a spacewalk, NASA says.

The walk–which is expected to take 6½ hours–is key to a National Aeronautics and Space Administration effort to make improvements to the power system of the ISS.

Saint-Jacques’ spacewalk partner McClain was the astronaut that was initially supposed to be part of the first all-female spacewalk in March, which was cancelled due to spacesuit availability issues.

McClain made a recommendation to defer the spacewalk with astronaut Christina Koch because of the concerns surrounding the spacesuits.

“To clarify, we have more than [one] medium sized spacesuit torso aboard, but to stay on schedule with @Space_Station upgrades, it’s safer [and] faster to change spacewalker assignments than reconfigure spacesuits,” NASA said on Twitter.

Koch went out with colleague Nick Hague instead and they successfully installed new lithium ion batteries and completed tasks aimed at improving power supply, according to NASA.

Saint-Jacques is the first Canadian Space Agency astronaut to be sent to space since Chris Hadfield, who gained international fame with his social media presence, in 2013.

Saint-Jacques blasted off for the International Space Station late last year from Kazakhstan.

Image of Saint-Jacques from CSA.  ■

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