Spacewalk will take ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer on ‘complete tour of the space station’

Astronauts Raja Chari of NASA and Matthias Maurer of the European Space Agency began the spacewalk at 8:32 a.m. ET. Live coverage will stream on NASA’s TV channel and website beginning at 7:30 a.m. ET.

At the beginning of the walk, Maurer experienced an issue involving the camera and light assembly on his helmet, which did not pose any threat to his safety, according to NASA. Chari assisted Maurer and they worked on a solution with mission control members on the ground, which involved some wiring. Once it was fixed, the duo began working on their spacewalk activities around 9:44 a.m. ET.

During the six-and-a-half-hour excursion, the astronauts will work on a number of tasks. Chari and Maurer will install hoses on a radiator beam valve module, which routes ammonia through the station’s heat-rejecting radiators. These ensure that space station systems remain at the proper temperature.

Additionally, Chari and Maurer will replace an external camera, install a power and data cable on the Columbus module’s Bartolomeo science platform, and conduct some other upgrades.

Inside the station, NASA astronauts Kayla Barron and Tom Marshburn will operate the Canadarm2 robotics arm to assist the spacewalkers.

It’s the 248th spacewalk in support of assembling, maintaining and upgrading the space station. This will be Chari’s second spacewalk after conducting his first alongside Barron last Tuesday, and the first for Maurer. Maurer will become the 12th ESA astronaut to conduct a spacewalk.

During the spacewalk, Chari will be extravehicular crew member 1 wearing the suit with red stripes, and Maurer will be identifiable as extravehicular crew member 2 in the suit with no stripes.

Maurer will experience his first spacewalk on Wednesday.

Maurer’s first space outing will be a busy one as he traverses much of the space station’s exterior, according to the ESA.

“I will go out with my dear colleague Raja. He will do some repairs for the cooling system of the Station, and I will walk around or, I should say, crawl around another part of the Station and do different small activities,” Maurer said in a statement. “I really do have to do a complete tour of the Space Station. It is a motley mix and I’m totally looking forward to it.”

When Maurer installs the power and data cable for Bartolomeo, the first European commercial facility positioned outside of the space station, it will be the final step in connecting the module so that it’s fully operational.

Cooperation with Russian space agency

There are currently 10 crew members on the space station, after three Russian cosmonauts arrived at the orbiting laboratory on Friday.
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The crew count will drop back down to seven on March 30 when NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei returns to Earth with Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov. They will undock from the space station in the Soyuz MS-19 crew ship and land in Kazakhstan about three and a half hours later.

Last week, NASA reaffirmed that it’s still working closely with Russian space agency Rocosmos on the space station, despite mounting geopolitical tensions.

Joint operations between NASA and Roscosmos at the Russian facilities at Baikonur, Kazakhstan, “continue to go well,” according to Joel Montalbano, manager of NASA’s International Space Station program. “I can tell you for sure Mark (Vande Hei) is coming home” on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, Montalbano said last week. “We are in communication with our Russian colleagues, there’s no fuzz on that.”

When Vande Hei lands, he will have spent 355 consecutive days in space, breaking the previous spaceflight record set by retired NASA astronaut Scott Kelly.

CNN’s Jackie Wattles contributed to this report.