In the first of at least four spacewalks, NASA astronaut Drew Morgan and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Luca Parmitano have begun a complicated and challenging series of work days to repair the Station’s Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer experiment.
Never designed to be serviceable after it was installed outside the Station in May 2011, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) will require the creation of sharp edges and other hazards in order to bring it back to full operational capacity.
AMS was, for years, a planned external experiment to the International Space Station and was originally scheduled to be delivered to the orbiting outpost in 2005 on Shuttle mission ULF-4.1.
But in the wake of the 2003 loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia and crew, the George W. Bush Administration decided to end the Shuttle program by 30 September 2010 via the minimum number of flights required to complete assembly of the Station.
The AMS, seen inside Space Shuttle Endeavour’s payload bay during delivery to the Station on STS-134. (Credit: NASA)
In the decision matrix of which Shuttle flights to cancel to meet the “minimum number necessary” Presidential directive, AMS’s mission was one that failed to make the final Shuttle manifest — ...