December 7, 1998, NASA astronaut Jerry Ross and Jim Newman conducted the first spacewalk. And in less than 20 years on May 12, 2017, the 200th spacewalk is administered.
According to NASA, “Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 1,247 hours and 55 minutes working outside the station during 200 spacewalks in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory.”
A NASA handout photo shows Expedition 51 Flight Engineer Jack Fischer inside the International Space Station (ISS.) Fischer is seen in his spacesuit while doing a fit check, a preparation for a spacewalk.
But this isn’t the highlight of the mission, what happened before and after is what really matters.
The historic spacewalk was supposed to last six and a half hours but it was shortened to four hours due to an early equipment glitch. There is a “small water leak” in the cable supplying power and cooling water to Fischer’s space suit thus he had to share Whitson’s space suit servicing system.
“This was not a leak in Fischer’s suit,” NASA said, adding “The sharing of the SCU resulted in an additional draw in battery power from the suits during preparations while in the Equipment Lock, reducing the battery power available for use during the spacewalk.”
As a result, their spacesuit’s battery power burns faster than usual. The outing was shortened and the pair was assigned the priority task, to replace a faulty 200-pound electronics box that routes commands and data to experiments.
Extravehicular activity 42 or EVA-42, as what the spacewalk is called, began and the duo left and went to separate directions.
“Oh my gosh, this is beautiful,” Fischer exclaimed upon catching a glimpse of Earth. “The biggest slice of awesome pie I’ve ever seen.”
Whitson, radioed to Fischer to ask why he didn’t use “awesome sauce,” one of his favorite expressions
“How about ginormous fondue pot bubbling over with piping hot awesome sauce?” Fischer replied.
The two finish the main task faster and they are able to tackle other tasks which NASA doubted could be done with the limited time.
“All of the major work has been accomplished,” Navias said. “It’s been a highly successful spacewalk in spite of a somewhat uncertain beginning.”
After the completed four-hour long spacewalk, Fischer addressed the end of the 200th spacewalk, all the astronauts, the support personnel on Earth and how far the space station has come.
“It’s humbling to be a part of their legacy.”
Peggy Whitson completed her ninth spacewalk, and holds the record of having the most spacewalk by a female astronaut, while Jack Fischer accomplished his first spacewalk.
The spacewalk is in support and maintenance of the station assembly, for the $100 billion laboratory flying 250 miles above Earth.