EVA Although working in space is still not routine, it is far more frequent than
it once was. One reason being the construction of the International Space
Station by the United States, Russia, Canada, Japan and 10 ESA Member States.

A total of 168 spacewalks will be needed in the next five years to complete
the assembly of the space station; more than seven times the number
undertaken in the past 10 years.

The first spacewalk to assemble the ISS took place on 7 December 1998,
when two astronauts spent more than seven hours outside their spacecraft,
connecting the Zarya control module to the Unity connecting module. They
also fitted handrails to the outside of the Unity to facilitate the work of
future astronauts. The last spacewalk to assemble the ISS is scheduled for
April 2006. Then, once the Centrifuge Accommodation Module is put into place,
the ISS will be complete.

According to astronauts who have visited the ISS, working around the space
station imposes new demands. The main reason is its size — 100 metres long
by 73 metres wide. Whereas smaller spacecraft can be positioned to make the
most of the available light from the Sun and the Earth, the ISS is more
difficult to manoeuvre, resulting in working conditions outside the ISS
being colder and darker.

Its size has also led to changes in the stringent safety rules laid down for
working outside spacecraft. Previous regulations specified that there should
be at least two astronauts outside a spacecraft at the same time, each
attached to the spacecraft by two lifelines and in constant visual contact
with companions on board the craft.

New regulations specify that it is sufficient for astronauts to be either
in radio contact with the spacecraft or visible through one of the
telecameras attached to the external structure, and now only one safety
line is used to connect astronauts to the ISS. In the unlikely event of
this breaking, a Safer instrument attached to their backpacks enables them
to use a joystick to stop rotating and move in any direction at a speed of
3 kilometres per hour.

Other changes are the result of the vast variety and number of tasks needed
to assemble the ISS. Instead of training to become specialists in a small
number of highly skilled jobs, today’s astronauts have to be good all-round
mechanics, prepared to face any eventuality. Training is given in a greater
number of generic tasks, such as how to move around the ISS, how to handle
and use various tools and, of course, what to do in an emergency.

One of the more revealing changes is that spacesuits are no longer made to
measure. This vital and highly technical piece of equipment now comes in
standard sizes with sleeves and trousers that can be lengthened or shortened
to meet individual requirements — a sure sign that the ISS has led to an
increase in the number of astronauts.

The first European to visit the ISS will be ESA astronaut Umberto Guidoni
who is due to take part in an 11-day Shuttle mission, tentatively scheduled
for 19 April 2001. ESA astronaut Claudie Andre-Deshays will follow him in
October, 2001. Claudie has already commenced training at Star City, near
Moscow, for her voyage aboard a Soyuz spacecraft from the Baikonur
Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Related News

* Work continues on the ISS


* Europe’s astronauts


* The future of manned spaceflight


* Astronauts to set up home on International Space Station for first time


* ISS space walk number three a success


* Space medicine


Related Links

* Manned Spaceflight


* European Astronaut Centre


* ISS (ESA pages)


* ISS (NASA pages)


* Umberto Guidoni


* Claudie Andre-Deshays



[Image 1: http://www.esa.int/export/esaCP/GGGM04JPEIC_index_1.html]
Astronaut James H. Newman works on wrap-up tasks during the last of the
three space walks performed by the STS-88 crew during its twelve-day mission
to connect the Zarya control module to the Unity connecting module of the
ISS. Photo: NASA

[Image 2: http://www.esa.int/export/esaCP/GGGM04JPEIC_index_1.html#subhead1]
Artist’s impression of the International Space Station

[Image 3: http://www.esa.int/export/esaCP/GGGM04JPEIC_index_1.html#subhead2]
ESA astronaut Umberto Guidoni was born on 18 August 1954 in Rome, Italy.
Umberto is married with one child and enjoys swimming, volleyball and
classical music.