NASA astronaut Kayla Barron, of Richland, will float out of the International Space Station and into space early on Tuesday for her first spacewalk.
NASA said she and her fellow flight engineer Thomas Marshburn on Monday were reviewing procedures and gathering and organizing tethers, cameras and pistol grip tools for the planned six-and-a-half-hour spacewalk.
Last week they checked out spacewalking tools and emergency jetpacks they would use in the unlikely event they became untethered from the station, according to NASA.
Barron said before her first flight into space that one of the things she was most looking forward to was a possible spacewalk.
She arrived at the space station Nov. 11 for a six-month stay focused on research in the station’s microgravity environment.
She and Marshburn, who is making his fifth spacewalk, are assigned to replace a faulty communications antenna mounted on a truss structure outside the space station.
They are scheduled to exit an airlock around 4:10 a.m. PST Tuesday, Nov. 30, with NASA planning live coverage on NASA TV starting at 2:30 a.m. PST. NASA TV is on the internet at NASA.gov and is included in some cable TV and satellite TV packages.
Barron will be wearing a spacesuit with white stripes and Mashburn’s suit will have red stripes.
A spacewalk may be the most difficult task she undertakes at the space station, Barron said as she was preparing for her launch.
Spacewalks require “incredible mental focus” to do detailed tasks, Barron said.
“And it is really physical because working in the suit is hard,” she said.
But her history as an athlete has helped prepare her, she said. She is a 2010 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, where she competed in cross country and won honors in track.
The space walk she is assigned to is expected to take about six hours and 30 minutes.
An antenna that is used to send signals to Earth via NASA’s satellite system recently stopped working, according to NASA.
Other communication systems are available, but NASA officials decided a new antenna should be installed to ensure multiple communication systems are working.
The planned spacewalk will be the 245th at the International Space Station in support of assembly, maintenance and upgrades.