At 12pm today, two astronauts from NASA will conduct a spacewalk to prepare for the installation of new solar arrays on the International Space Station (ISS). This comes as tensions between the US and Russia over the Ukraine invasion reach an all-time high, even threatening to derail global space plans.
Astronauts Kayla Barron, 34, and Raja Chari, 44, will exit the station for an approximately six-hour spacewalk, this being their second and first spacewalks, respectively.
During this planned incursion into the emptiness of space, the two astronauts will install brackets and struts that will support the future installation of solar arrays.
Over the past year, two of the six new solar arrays have been unfurled to power the station’s electronics.
This comes after Roscosmos, the Russian Space Agency, threatened to abandon an American astronaut and warned it could crash the station into the US in response to harsh sanctions.
Head of the Russian Space Agency, Dmitry Rogozin, sent a terrifying warning that Russia may abandon Mark Vande Hei, the US astronaut aboard the ISS.
Mr Vande Hei was set to return to Earth aboard a Russian spacecraft in three weeks’ time.
Mr Rogozin posted a threatening video on social media casting doubt over the astronaut’s safety.
He also threatened to allow the 500-tonne space station to crash into the earth by pulling Russian equipment out of the collaborative project.
READ MORE: ‘Who will save Europe?’ Russian space chief threatens to let ISS crash
He said: “We work together. It’s not a process where one group can separate from the other.
“We need everything together in order to be successful in order to work.”
Roscosmos later went back on their threat, with Russian state-owned news network TASS confirming that the space agency intends to fulfil its promise of allowing Mr Vande Hei to leave ISS on March 30.
The statement read: “US astronaut Mark Vande Hei will travel back home in the Saoyuz MS-19 spacecraft together with Russia’s Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov on March 30,”
“Roscosmos has never let anybody doubt its reliability as a partner.”