German ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter will become the first European to conduct an EVA while onboard the International Space Station. The EVA, which is part of the European Astrolab Mission being carried out with the support of the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), forms one of the highlights of the mission's flight programme.
The EVA will take place on Thursday, 3 August 2006, at 15:55 CEST (Central European Summer Time). Together with NASA Astronaut Jeff Williams, Thomas Reiter will spend about six hours in open space.
The EVA, which aims to prepare the way for further extension of the ISS, will also involve scientific experiments being carried out on the exterior of the station. These include the experiments in materials science MISSE 3 and 4 (Materials International Space Station Experiment) and the FPMU physics experiment (Floating Potential Measurement Unit). MISSE aims to examine the effects of conditions in outer space on samples of various materials which are to be used in future prolonged space missions. FPMU aims to examine the various electrical fields affecting the ISS. Results should help ensure a higher level of safety for the station as well as astronauts involved in EVAs in the future.
Further components will be flown into orbit by Space Shuttle missions STS-115 (August 2006) and STS-116 (December 2006), in particular those components which will provide the ISS with electricity. During this EVA, preparations for the installation of these components will include inspecting the truss components and the fitting of various control devices, such as an infra-red camera.
With the arrival onboard the ISS of Thomas Reiter as the third crew member of Expedition 13, the science programme has been extended. The first four weeks of the Astrolab mission have already seen experiments carried out in the fields of biology and material physics as well as Earth observation and technological research. These were carried out along with the Russian station commander Pavel Vinogradow and the American flight engineer Jeff Williams.
Follow progress of the EVA
As part of a joint EVA 'blog', or online diary, DLR and the European Space Agency (ESA) will report on the progress of Thomas Reiter's EVA in both German and English. The blog editors, along with ESA astronaut Reinhold Ewald from the Columbus Control Centre within DLR's German Space Operations Center, in Oberpfaffenhofen, will up-to-the-minute provide images, commentary and background information on the progress of the EVA.
The EVA blog can be accessed from 2 August at the following Web addresses:
http://www.esa.int/evablog_en (English)http://www.esa.int/evablog_de (German)
NASA will also provide live commentary on the event at: http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html.