First spacewalk no longer planned for today

WASHINGTON — The scheduled spacewalk during today’s spacewalk to perform maintenance aboard the International Space Station is now not scheduled for 9:00 a.m. — today.

Instead, the morning spacewalk is expected to begin at 11:30 a.m.

The delay is a result of a National Space Transportation Association Space Debris Advisory Committee meeting that NASA, as well as other NASA programs that could be affected by debris, were notified about last night.

With the additional time the agency has been given to complete analysis, NASA’s forecasters determined that the threat level of debris was lower and that today’s planned spacewalk was no longer required. That means the deadline for completing all scheduled maintenance on the space station will still be tomorrow, NASA said.

The delays are part of NASA’s program to inspect all of its equipment to confirm they’re free of any damage from space debris and who’s to blame if it exists. This is especially concerning as it gets close to the launch of the space station’s new German module this weekend, which could be hit by anything large, because that module is sitting right next to the station’s Destiny laboratory.

NASA is at the center of a new push to move ahead with more space exploration activities as many of NASA’s 25 major programs are facing mandatory budget cuts as the nation works to resolve a multi-year budget deadlock. Since 2002, the U.S. has been responsible for the operation of the space station that orbits Earth, as well as shuttling manned trips to the moon and Mars and other missions. The space shuttle program ended in 2011 and only four humans are left on the station at the moment.

The spacewalk between Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin and NASA astronaut Kate Rubins had been planned to run two and a half hours and involve the installation of a new radiator at the end of the space station’s robotic arm.

NASA is still hoping the debris advisory panel meeting will conclude as scheduled sometime later in the afternoon.

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