Astronauts, including Minn. native, complete year's final spacewalks

What should be the last spacewalk of the year is being called a banner day for the astronauts involved. Part of that NASA team is Minnesota native astronaut Mark Vande Hei. 

Astronauts on a spacewalk Friday had to deal with a frayed tether and an emergency jet pack that popped open and had to be tapped shut. Both are crucial safety features that help in case someone flies away into space.

After some trouble shooting, the rest of the day was pretty smooth sailing.

During Friday’s six hour and 49-minute spacewalk, one of several jobs for Commander Randy Bresnik and teacher-turned-astronaut Joe Acaba was to replace a blurry camera on a new robotic hand that was installed on the International Space Station during a spacewalk two weeks ago. They also replaced a fuse, removed thermal insulation from spare electronics and installed a high definition camera.

Sharp focus is essential so the robotic hand can capture an arriving supply ship. The next delivery is a few weeks away, prompting the quick camera swap-out.

Vande Hei didn’t float outside the ISS this time after taking part in two previous walks, his first on October 5 and again on October 10 in which he helped replace a latch on one end of the 58-foot robotic arm.

The device has been in orbit for 16 years and the repair was high on NASA's priority list.
This time the St. John’s University alum helped with essential work inside the space station, including re-pressurization procedures when his fellow astronauts go out and come back in.

As Vande Hei has told Fox 9 in the past, this six-month stint in outer space is his childhood dream coming true.