Unusual issue forces NASA to call off ISS spacewalk | Digital Trends


NASA astronauts Tracy C. Dyson and Matthew Dominick during spacewalk training in Houston, Texas.
NASA astronauts Tracy C. Dyson (left) and Matthew Dominick during spacewalk training in Houston, Texas. NASA

NASA’s first spacewalk of 2024 was called off about an hour before it was expected to begin at the International Space Station on Thursday morning.

The space agency said the spacewalk involving NASA astronauts Tracy C. Dyson and Matthew Dominick was postponed “due to a spacesuit discomfort issue.”

It didn’t say if the problem affected one or both astronauts, but clearly it couldn’t be resolved in time for the spacewalk to begin as NASA ended up scrapping the event.

The walk would have been Dyson’s fourth and Dominick’s first and would have lasted around six-and-a-half hours. The spacesuits that astronauts wear outside the station during spacewalks are large and bulky, and an improper fit would’ve been hard to handle for such a long period of time. Still, it’s unusual for a spacewalk to be called off for this reason.

“The crew members on the station are healthy, and spacesuits are functioning as expected,” NASA said in a message on its website after the spacewalk had been postponed.

The next spacewalk at the orbital outpost is currently scheduled for Monday, June 24, followed by another on Tuesday, July 2. Astronauts for those walks have yet to be named.

Dyson and Dominick, who arrived at the station on separate spacecraft three months ago, would’ve spent some of their time during Thursday’s spacewalk swabbing exterior surfaces as part of research to find out if microorganisms released through the station’s vents can survive the hostile conditions of space.

The findings could help scientists learn more about the possibility of life existing in other off-Earth locations, and help to confirm whether any life that’s discovered somewhere like Mars is really from there or was actually brought on a mission from Earth.

The task list for Monday’s spacewalk also includes collecting microorganism samples, so the research will still be undertaken, albeit a little later than expected.

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