STS-118 Spacewalker Rick Mastracchio has been sent back to the Quest airlock, after a cut was observed in his glove during on routine half-hourly check.
The Endeavour astronaut was in no danger, due to the several layers that make up the gloves, but as a precaution, his role on EVA-3 was terminated. His EVA partner, Clay Anderson, also ordered to finish his tasks, moving incompleted tasks to EVA-4.
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The termination of the EVA won’t affect the mission objectives, with only the retrieval of the Materials on the International Space Station Experiment (MISSE) 3 and 4 ‘suitcase sized’ experiment packages outstanding from the spacewalk. This can now be added to EVA-4, or a future EVA from a following shuttle mission.
Anderson and Mastracchio were coming to the last couple of hours of their EVA-3 tasks, which had completed the main elements of the spacewalk, the P6 S-Band Antenna Subassembly Relocation to the P1 Truss, and the P1 Truss Baseband Signal Processor and transponder installation.
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The damage, seen from the helmet camera of Mastracchio, showed a small tear/cut in the upper part thumb area of his glove. He immediately noticed it during the half-hourly check, and referenced it over the flight loop.
‘Show it to me,’ came back the call from Houston, which was soon followed by the call to request Mastracchio headed back to the airlock, as a precaution. This is believed to be the first incident of an EVA being terminated due to glove damage.
However, this is only the second mission since new procedures were brought in for checking the gloves of spacewalkers every 30 minutes during an EVA. This came about after damage was seen on Robert ‘Beamer’ Curbeam’s EMU (Extravehicular Mobility Unit) gloves, after STS-116 had landed.
The two centimeter cut in Beamer’s glove also did not pose any risk to the spacewalker, as the gloves have a mesh-like vectran weave layer protecting the underlying protective layers. Regardless, NASA worked a plan for all subsequent spacewalks, including the 30 minute glove check rule.
However, the cut on Mastracchio’s glove is more obvious, whereas Beamer’s glove damage was initially put down to delamination, which is believed to be the reasons no one noticed until after Discovery’s crew had arrived back on the ground. It wasn’t until detailed inspections took place that the damage was confirmed to be a more than just delamination.
‘Post flight inspection of CM Curbeam’s gloves revealed delamination of the RTV and a cut in the underlying vectran weave,’ added an expansive presentation acquired by this site’s L2 section, and reported on this site several weeks before other media published their reports.
‘The first indication of the issues was at USA (United Space Alliance) during post flight unpacking. Hole ~0.75” in length through the vectran initially believed to be caused by wear.
‘RTV wear (i.e. delamination) is expected for hand intensive activities such as manipulating electrical and fluid connectors Similar RTV delamination was observed on Sunni Williams left glove post US EVA 7.’
The rest of Flight Day 8 will continue with shuttle and station transfer activities, which will continue into tomorrow (Flight Day 9).
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