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The third spacewalk began

NASA is considering an unplanned fourth space mission to deal with the wayward solar collector

Astronaut Bob Korbim steps out of the station's hatch to begin the third spacewalk. Photo: NASA TV
Astronaut Bob Korbim steps out of the station's hatch to begin the third spacewalk. Photo: NASA TV
Astronauts Robert Korbim and Sunita Williams are currently performing the third spacewalk of mission STS-116 designed to continue rewiring the station's electrical system and other tasks. The mission began at 21:25 Israel time. A fourth spacewalk may be added on Monday to deal with the wayward solar collector.

Korim Williams reroutes the power through the station's power channels 1 and 4. Korvem and Christer Vogelsang had already routed the power through channels 2 and 3 on the previous spacewalk on Thursday evening. The electrical works will bring the station to its permanent status in terms of electricity supply and will also allow the connection of two additional solar collectors in the future.

Other tasks of the two are repairing a hold on the robotic arm and repositioning panels to protect against space junk fragments from inside the station to an external storage point. The panels are designed to increase the protection of the station's living areas and will be installed in them during one of the upcoming spacewalks performed by members of the station's crew.

The two also performed tests on the solar array that was not deployed properly, and they may have to extend their stay outside the station a little because of this. The mission will require at least one of the two astronauts to reach the P6 component and push a box into the area where the solar collector is folded to relieve pressure and release trapped cables. The result may lead to another attempt to close the receiver.

The two may also collect some tools outside the station and bring them back inside in preparation for a fourth mission - to be added to the three that were planned, which may be dedicated to repairing the solar collector. Mission managers have not yet determined whether the fourth mission will take place. If Yaa takes place, then the designated day for her is Monday.

For the purpose of the work, the flight controllers turned off about half of the electricity supply to the station. They will put the devices back into operation when Korvem Williams returns to the station.

At the same time, the other members of the STS-116 crew of the shuttle Discovery and crew 14 of the space station continued to transfer cargo between the shuttle and the station.

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