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Astronauts start spacewalk for Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer repairs

Jan. 25 (UPI) — NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan and European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano completed repairs on the International Space Station’s Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer on Saturday during the third spacewalk of the year.

The duo spent a little over 6 hours during the mission, earning Parmitano the European record for longest cumulative spacewalking time.

“We did it. We all did it,” Morgan said at the completion of the mission.

The two astronauts switched their spacesuits to battery power at 7:04 a.m. EST, exiting the Quest airlock around 7:15 a.m. EST. The duo came back inside the International Space Station at 1:20 p.m. EST.

“During the 6 hour, 16 minute spacewalk, the two astronauts successfully completed leak checks for the cooling system on the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) and opened a valve to being pressurizing the system. Preliminary testing shows AMS is responding as expected,” NASA said.

Saturday’s spacewalk was broadcast live by NASA TV.

Though Morgan and Parmitano were alone outside the space station on Saturday, they weren’t without help.

“Meir and Koch will operate the Canadarm2 robotic arm carefully making fine-tuned maneuvers to assist the spacewalkers at the AMS worksite,” referring to fellow astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch.

Upon leaving the ISS, Morgan and Parmitano were assisted to their worksite by the Canadarm2. After checking for leaks, the two spacewalkers began their repair work.

Cosmologists and astrophysicists suspect most of the matter in the universe is made up of dark matter, but scientists don’t know what exactly dark matter is. The AMS is an experimental device designed to detect antimatter in cosmic rays and help scientists solve the mystery of dark matter’s composition.

When engineers designed the device, they didn’t conceive of in-service repairs. But the technology’s cooling component needs to be replaced for the experiment to continue.

Morgan and Parmitano began repairs on the AMS during a pair of spacewalks in November. NASA scientists hope Saturday’s efforts to complete the repairs will extend the AMS’ scientific mission through 2030.

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