CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Spacewalking astronauts set up TV cameras Thursday for new crew capsules set to arrive in coming months.
The International Space Station’s commander, Drew Feustel, and Ricky Arnold completed the installation — their main job — after struggling with a shield for protection against space debris.
As the work got underway, Feustel had trouble removing the protective panel, in order to disconnect an old cable and hook up a new one for the cameras. He used a small crowbar and noted if “I had more hands” the job would be easier.
Arnold floated over to help. Between the two of them, the astronauts managed to complete the initial cable work.
“Fantastic job,” Mission Control radioed. But the astronauts soon encountered more snags, slowing them down. They finally got the two high-definition TV cameras installed on the end of 4 1/2-foot booms.
The high-def cameras are meant to provide sharp views of commercial crew capsules coming in to dock.
Until SpaceX and Boeing start flying astronauts, NASA must rely solely on Russian capsules for getting to and from the 250-mile-high outpost. The Russians rides are costing NASA up to $82 million per person.
NASA hasn’t launched astronauts into space from U.S. soil since the last shuttle flight in 2011. SpaceX and Boeing are aiming for test flights from Cape Canaveral, Florida, by year’s end.
The tentative schedule shows flights without a crew by both companies in late summer followed by launches with astronauts by December. But those dates are considered optimistic.