A spacewalk to fix a faulty antenna on the International Space Station set to take place Tuesday was delayed after NASA received a notification about the possibility of encountering space debris.
NASA astronauts Thomas Marshburn and Kayla Barron were scheduled to begin their repairs at 7:10 a.m. ET on Tuesday, but the agency said a debris notification came in Monday night, which meant NASA did not have enough time to assess the threat before the time of the spacewalk, which would have been Barron's first.
"The evening of Monday, Nov. 29, NASA received a debris notification for the International Space Station," the agency said in an updated advisory Tuesday. "Due to the lack of opportunity to properly assess the risk it could pose to the astronauts, teams have decided to delay the spacewalk until more information is available. The space station schedule and operations are able to easily accommodate the delay of the spacewalk."
"NASA is gathering and assessing information about the risk and will share more information when we can," a spokesperson for the agency, Stephanie Schierholz, told NPR in an emailed statement.
The faulty antenna helps the ISS communicate with ground-based flight controllers, and has a minimal impact on the station's functions, but NASA said in its advisory the agency wanted to repair the antenna to ensure back-up means of communication.
NPR noted it is unclear if the debris was in any way related to an anti-missile test conducted by Russia two weeks ago, which caused astronauts on the ISS to shelter inside due to the cloud of debris it caused. A State Department spokesperson said afterward, "this test will significantly increase the risk to astronauts and cosmonauts on the International Space Station, as well as to other human spaceflight activities."
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