26 Mar 2022 13:02

Integration of ERA device into Russian Nauka module at ISS to continue - cosmonaut

MOSCOW. March 26 (Interfax) - Russian cosmonauts will perform three spacewalks in April and May to integrate the European Robotic Arm (ERA) into the Russian segment of the International Space Station (ISS), Oleg Artemyev, a cosmonaut working at the ISS, said.

"The first spacewalk is scheduled for April 20. And the next one is just next week, on April 28, and during it we will continue working with the ERA manipulator - we'll remove protective covers from it, install rails and tethers and release the capture locks so that it is able to 'walk,'" Artemyev said in an interview with the Russky Kosmos (Russian Space) magazine.

The first spacewalk is scheduled for May, he said.

The crew will initialize and put the ERA, installed on the external surface of the Nauka module, into commission, he said. "The main objective is testing the external control panel. We will have to take it out, install and test its operations," Artemyev said.

One of his next spacewalks, seven planned in total, will be performed with European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, Artemyev said.

"And the remaining six [will be] together with Denis Matveyev. And Sergei Korsakov will act as an operator at the station, the first person to control the ERA manipulator," the cosmonaut said.

On January 19, director of the Energia Rocket and Space Corporation's extravehicular activity department Alexander Poleshchuk said that the operation to integrate the European Robotic Arm (ERA) into the International Space Station (ISS) has been postponed due to technical problems with the ERA.

The Russian State Space Corporation Roscosmos said earlier that spacewalks would be performed on January 27 and February 2 to integrate the robotic arm into the ISS. Cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov were supposed to perform the spacewalk, possibly alongside ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer.

Dubrov said on January 23 that the next Russian crew and an ESA astronaut would perform the ERA's integration into the ISS.

The ERA autonomous relocatable robotic arm, built by German company Fokker Space, is part of the Nauka module's standard electromechanical equipment. As the ISS Russian segment's main robotic arm, it will place and remove payloads from the station's surface, will monitor the state of its surface and will implement the remote controlled relocation of cosmonauts on a movable work platform during spacewalks.

The United States and the European Union announced sanctions against the Russian space sector on February 24. In response to the sanctions imposed by the EU, Roscosmos CEO Dmitry Rogozin said that Russia was halting Soyuz rocket launches from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou and withdrawing its personnel from there.

On March 17, the ESA governing board deemed it impossible to continue cooperating on the ExoMars 2022 mission with Roscosmos. Rogozin said after the ESA refusal to cooperate on the ExoMars mission that Roscosmos will be able to carry out a Martian expedition on its own.

On March 3, Rogozin announced the end of cooperation with the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in the course of scientific research onboard the International Space Station (ISS) due to Germany's sanctions on Russia. The Russian program of experiments will be performed in full without Germany's participation, he said.