Andreas Mogensen’s Historic First Spacewalk: A Milestone Achievement in Astronautics

ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen is set to embark on his first spacewalk on October 12, 2023. During this spacewalk, Andreas will install a new high-definition camera on the International Space Station (ISS) and prepare an experiment for a future upgrade. The spacewalk will be conducted alongside NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara.

Before the spacewalk, Andreas and Loral will undergo preparations to ensure their safety and health. They will breathe pure oxygen and engage in light exercise to eliminate nitrogen from their blood, which can cause health issues when transitioning from a high-pressure to a low-pressure environment. Additionally, leak and communication checks will be performed in the Quest airlock before the astronauts venture outside the ISS.

Once outside the ISS, Andreas will install the new high-definition camera while secured to the Station’s robotic arm, Canadarm2. Notably, this will be the first time that the robotic arm is operated from ground control instead of by an astronaut on the Space Station. Inside the ISS, NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli will monitor the operations and take over if necessary.

The new camera is expected to provide a high-definition view of Earth, upgrading the current camera installed underneath the Space Station. This enhancement will offer beautiful views for people on Earth. Meanwhile, Loral will collect swabs from around the Space Station vents and the Quest airlock to search for signs of microbes outside the ISS. The vents of the Space Station’s life support system release carbon dioxide and other gases into space to maintain breathable air for astronauts. The presence of bacterial residue near the vents could help scientists understand if bacteria can survive on surfaces in outer space and aid in reducing human contamination on future missions to the Moon and Mars.

After completing these tasks, both astronauts will proceed to the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS-02) to check a new tool for connecting and disconnecting cables. This step is important for preparing the future upgrade of the AMS-02.

Throughout the spacewalk, safety remains a priority. Andreas and Loral will be secured to the Space Station with safety tethers and will have the SAFER system on their space suits. The SAFER system can help them return to the Space Station in the event that they become untethered.

Guiding the astronauts through each step of the spacewalk will be NASA astronaut Jonathan Yong Kim from mission control at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Andreas has previously performed this role himself during his time as the ESA liaison officer.

To prepare for his spacewalk, Andreas underwent training at the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory at Johnson Space Center. This facility features a 12-meter-deep pool with a mock-up of the Space Station, providing a realistic simulation of a spacewalk without leaving Earth.

The spacewalk is scheduled to last six hours and can be followed on ESA WebTV channel 2 on October 12, starting at 16:00 CEST (15:00 BST). This exciting endeavor marks a significant milestone for Andreas Mogensen as he continues to contribute to scientific exploration and advancements in space technology.