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Astronaut spacewalk to replace faulty space station antenna

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Astronaut spacewalk to replace faulty space station antenna
Two U.S. spacesuits are pictured inside the International Space Station's Quest airlock in which astronauts prepare the suits for spacewalks. Photo courtesy of NASA

Nov. 29 (UPI) -- A pair of NASA astronauts -- a veteran and a first-time space flyer -- are to venture outside the International Space Station on Tuesday to replace a broken antenna that helps the crew in space communicate with Earth.

Thomas Marshburn, 61, and Kayla Barron, 34, will don spacesuits and exit the space station about 7:10 a.m. EST for some 6 1/2 hours, according to NASA's description.

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The spacewalk would be Marshburn's fifth and Barron's first.

Marshburn will strap his feet onto a robotic crane outside the space station -- the Canadarm2 -- to provide him with leverage to work on the antenna.

"Throughout the spacewalk, Marshburn will position himself at the end of the Canadarm2 robotic arm, working in tandem with Barron," NASA said in a press release. "Astronaut Matthias Maurer of ... the European Space Agency will control the robotic arm from inside the space station."

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NASA maintains multiple communication channels, using several antennae, to ensure communication with the space station is uninterrupted. Such communication is so important that the space agency already has a spare antenna attached to the exterior, to replace the faulty antenna.

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Because multiple channels exist, NASA does not expect interruption of communications during the antenna replacement.

NASA plans to provide more details about the spacewalk in a press conference Monday afternoon.

NASA and Russia's Roscosmos recently made upgrades to the space station, which is marking its 21st year, including new solar arrays to provide more power and a new Russian module in which cosmonauts will conduct science experiments.

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The space station's international coalition has planned to support the facility only through 2028 -- or 2030 if international partners agree on an extension.

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The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches NASA's third crew to the International Space Station at 9:03 p.m. November 10 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo by Joe Marino/UPI | License Photo

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