Astronaut’s medical issue prompts NASA to call off Tuesday’s spacewalk

A spacewalk at the International Space Station (ISS) planned for Tuesday, August 24, has been postponed due a medical issue affecting one of the two participating astronauts.

The space agency announced the news on Monday, explaining that NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei, who arrived at the orbiting outpost in April 2021, was experiencing a “minor medical issue,” adding that it was “not a medical emergency.”

With spacewalks requiring astronauts to work in a bulky spacesuit in a challenging environment for around seven hours at a time, those taking part have to be in tip-top condition before stepping outside the confines of the space station.

The spacewalk, which Vande Hei will carry out with Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, will now take place after the SpaceX CRS-23 cargo resupply launch that’s planned for August 28, and also following two scheduled spacewalks involving Russian cosmonauts that are expected to take place in early September.

Vande Hei isn’t scheduled to depart the ISS until March 2022, so there’s plenty of time for him to conduct the spacewalk. But it’s a little tighter for Hoshide, who’s set to leave in early November 2021. Still, the postponed walk could take place as early as mid- to late September.

Tuesday’s postponed spacewalk would have seen the two astronauts continue work to upgrade the station’s power system with the installation of a support bracket for new rollout arrays. Two of the new arrays have already been put in place, with another four awaiting installation.

Both Vande Hei and Hoshide spent the last week preparing for the spacewalk — or extravehicular activity to use NASA’s official terminology for such events — including checking their spacesuits, setting up their tools, and reviewing procedures for the excursion.

According to a tweet (below) from the ISS Twitter account, the preparations were going according to plan as of Saturday, August 21. But some time after that, Vande Hei suffered a medical issue that prompted NASA to take action.

The Exp 65 crew goes into the weekend preparing for Tuesday's spacewalk while juggling a multitude of space research. https://t.co/K6HMCDxhjs

— International Space Station (@Space_Station) August 20, 2021

As soon as we get news of a new date for the spacewalk, we’ll be sure to update our “how to watch” page detailing everything you need to know about how to tune in to the event in real time.

In the meantime, check out these stunning images of spacewalks from over the years.

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