Two NASA spacewalkers executed a quick fix at the International Space Station today, moving a stuck rail car to clear the path for a robotic Russian cargo ship that was launched just hours before.
The 3-hour, 16-minute spacewalk was put on the schedule just last week, when mission controllers discovered that the robotic rail car on the station’s main truss was jammed on the track, 4 inches (10 centimeters) out of position.
Astronauts Scott Kelly and Tim Kopra had to release the brake handles on the crew equipment carts on each side of the rail car to move it to its storage spot. NASA wanted the car locked down properly as a precaution in advance of Wednesday’s scheduled arrival of a Russian Progress cargo craft.
The Progress was launched without a hitch from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan today at 2:44 p.m. local time (12:44 a.m. PT). It’s carrying about 3 tons of food, fuel and supplies for the crew.
Kelly and Kopra freed up the rail car so quickly that they could take on some “get-ahead” tasks, including routing cables that eventually will connect to a new docking adapter and a Russian laboratory module.