Spacewalking astronauts turn cable guys Astronaut Barry "Butch" Wilmore, left, and Terry Virts begin wiring the International Space Station (AP photos)
Spacewalking astronauts turn cable guys
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Spacewalking astronauts have routed more than 300 feet of cable outside the International Space Station. It was tricky and tiring advance work for the arrival of new American-made crew capsules.

It was the first of three spacewalks planned for NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Terry Virts.

Altogether, Wilmore and Virts have 764 feet of cable to run outside the space station. They got off to a strong start Feb. 21. They rigged eight power and data lines, or about 340 feet.

"Broadening my resume," Virts observed.

NASA considers this the most complicated cable-routing job in the 16-year history of the space station. Equally difficult will be running cable on the inside of the complex.

The extensive rewiring is needed to prepare for NASA's next phase 260 miles up: the 2017 arrival of the first commercial spacecraft capable of transporting astronauts to the orbiting lab.

NASA is paying Boeing and SpaceX to build the capsules and fly them from Cape Canaveral, Fla., which hasn't seen a manned launch since the shuttles retired in 2011. Instead, Russia is doing all the taxi work for a steep price.

The first of two docking ports for the Boeing and SpaceX vessels still under development is due to arrive in June. Even more spacewalks will be needed to set everything up.

There were so many cables that NASA color-coded them. That helped the spacewalkers only so much; they expected a lighter blue for one of the lines.

"I worked up a lather on that one," Wilmore informed Mission Control. After successfully attaching the first four cables, he added, "I've got to cool down."

Mission Control left two cables or about 24 feet worth for the next spacewalk. Four hundred feet of additional cable will be installed March 1 on spacewalk No. 3.

"We've got a lot of work still," Mission Control said.

"We want to make sure we look after your health and get you back inside now. So we're going to claim victory here."

It was the first spacewalk for Virts. He arrived at the space station in late November. He savored the moment as he floated out high above the South Pacific.

"Pretty cool," he said.

Spacesuit concerns stalled the work by a day.

NASA wanted to make certain that the suits worn by Wilmore and Virts had reliable fan and pump assemblies. Two other fan-pump units failed aboard the space station in recent months. They were returned to Earth earlier this month for analysis. Corrosion was discovered, the result of water intrusion from testing.

Their suits appeared to work fine.

"I just wanted to say thanks to everyone for their hard work and diligence," Wilmore, the station's commander, said once he was safely back inside.

Critical thinking challenge: How did color coding help the astronauts?

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COMMENTS (20)
  • EvanC-Bru
    2/27/2015 - 11:44 a.m.

    According to "Spacewalking Astronauts Turn Cable Guys," it's says the color coding helped the spacewalkers only so much. This means the spacewalkers could figure out what cord is what, it could make their job so much easier.

  • BreeE-Bru
    2/27/2015 - 12:56 p.m.

    Color coding helped the astronauts during their spacewalk to reroute cable. Color coding helped them because having different colors of cables mean different things help the astronauts know where each cable needs to go. If all the cable were the same color, but did different things, then the astronauts wouldn't know where to reroute the cables to. This shows color coding helped the astronauts.

  • JamesT-Bru
    2/27/2015 - 01:44 p.m.

    The article "Spacewalking astronauts turn cable guys" was very informative it makes space seem a lot better than movies like gravity because they focus on the worst that can happen. It said they would have liked a lighter shade of blue because dark colors in a dark area are normally hard to see and keep track of. I think that the article explains what it is actually like in the unknown.

  • savannahe-And
    2/27/2015 - 03:29 p.m.

    Color coding helps the astronauts because they are able to tell which wires are which and how to tell which cables are which. If they all had the same color cables like black for example they wouldn't know which cable is which.

  • 17Blake-May
    2/27/2015 - 05:03 p.m.

    thats is not posible you can not get a service out in the space center it just is immpossible

  • ConnorK-2
    2/27/2015 - 07:07 p.m.

    Wires, wires everywhere! Spacewalking astronauts have routed more than 300 feet of cable to be able to travel outside of the space station. The procedure of acquiring this much cording was difficult and tiring. NASA has deemed this one of the most difficult cabling jobs in over sixteen years! There may also be a challenge of running the cables inside of the space station. Two astronauts have 764 feet worth of cording and also have eight power and data lines, which adds 340 feet. NASA wanted to be sure that the suits the astronauts would be wearing had a reliable fan and pump setting. During testing the fan and pump assemblies had failed, but when they were actually put to use they worked. I think that going out to space is already complicated, but to have to deal with cording makes it even worse.

  • SebastianH-1
    2/27/2015 - 07:14 p.m.

    Recently, astronauts were sent to the International Space Station to do some cable-routing. There were many challenges, but they are still going. This is supposed to be the most complicated spacewalk in the station's history. The article was informative and well-sized. It could have been better written, though.

  • SofiaB-2
    2/27/2015 - 07:57 p.m.

    This article talks about how an astronaut that used to do crazy stunts in space such as practically risking their life every time they stepped out of the capsule, becomes a cable guy. He shows good humor of it about how he is "broadening his resume." I think it would be quite cool to say that your cable guy was an astronaut!

  • Eric0221-YYCA
    2/27/2015 - 08:04 p.m.

    I think that it is cool for astronauts on the international space station to be turned into a cable guy because they always do a spacewalk on the international space station to fix the cables that are disconnected outside the international space station(I.S.S) which could be hard because of the zero gravity. Well if astronauts that are spacewalkers outside the I.S.S, I think that they are called cable guys because they always go outside the I.S.S to fix the cables that are disconnected.
    Critical thinking challenge: How did the color coding help the astronauts?
    Answer: The color coding that the NASA did helped the astronauts to reconnect the cables.

  • BrynnDani
    2/28/2015 - 08:37 a.m.

    I am so excited to hear the news that we are so close to sending spaceships back into space. I can't wait to hear about all of the new discoveries that they make and how the commercial spaceflights work.

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