Parmitano Luca (Italy)Luca Parmitano, Beyond missionAstronaut Training

Luca Parmitano EVA training at the NBL in Houston

Credits: ESA - S. Corvaja

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As part of the upcoming Beyond mission, Luca Parmitano is undergoing Extravehicular activity (EVA) training and hardware reviews in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL) at the Sonny Carter Training Facility, near the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas in March 2019. This EVA training is particularly important as it is part of the training for a number of difficult spacewalks in order to repair the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) particle detector. The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) launched 16 May 2011 aboard STS 134 Endeavour, is a silent witness to the formation of the universe, quietly collecting about 100 billion cosmic rays, particles, and nuclei with energies up to 1 trillion electron volts. The results show unexpected phenomena not predicted by current cosmic ray models—and changing our understanding of the cosmos. The AMS mission while initially meant to run for only 3 years, has been so successful that it's mission life has been extended. Since the system was originally on slated to last 3 years in space however and 3 of the 4 redundant cooling pumps have stopped functioning, this necessitates a major intervention. To repair the AMS will require a series of "Hubble-esque" spacewalks to replace the cooling system for the $2 billion instrument, a cooling system which was never designed to be replaced in space. Not the least of these spacewalks is a very difficult first one intended to determine just how and where to intervene, and what tools will be needed during this process. ESA's Luca Parmitano already experienced in EVAs will be part of this repair effort. Luca will be going 'Beyond' when he returns to the International Space Station in 2019 as part of Expedition 60/61, alongside Andrew Morgan of NASA and Alexander Skvortsov of Roscosmos. Luca was the first of the 2009 astronaut class to fly to the Space Station. His first mission Volare, meaning 'to fly' in Italian, took place in 2013 and lasted 166 days, during which time Luca conducted two spacewalks and many experiments that are still running today.

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Human and Robotic Exploration