Two astronauts flock to the International Space Station on Friday for the first of four space lanes to repair a $ 2 billion space detector, working hard to prepare an invasive surgery device to pump new pumps coolant and extend the life of the instrument composition of the universe.
"We will do what might be considered open-heart surgery in this incredible experiment," said Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano, the current commander of the space station.
The 7.5-ton patient in this case is the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, or AMS, the most expensive scientific instrument aboard a space station and one not designed for orbit service. As such, "operation" is considered to be one of the most difficult as the repair and upgrade work of the Hubble Space Telescope.
"It's down to the top of the list, if not the top," said Tara Yohim, AMS repair manager at the Houston Space Center in Houston.
Flying into the Station's Quest Air Base, Parmitano and NASA astronaut Drew Morgan turned on their space suits to power the battery at 6:39 a.m. EST to officially launch the Ninth Space Route in 1945 .
Parmitano last walked into space in July 2013, his suit not functioning, flooding his helmet with water and forcing an urgent return to the station's aetheric block. NASA has developed procedures to prevent relapse, and since then no such problems have occurred.
The main purpose of the space path on Friday was to prepare AMS for its planned operation by identifying tools and equipment before removing the debris, giving them access to the device's thermal management system.
After carefully tossing a debris shield overboard, space trackers attached two railings to help them move around the device and, reaching AMS, cut off half a dozen zippers and cut a cord to fold back insulating blankets.
Work went much faster than expected, and astronauts were able to work through several objects initially planned for their second space path next Friday. Then the actual repair work will start. The third and fourth space lanes will be formally scheduled after managers evaluate the results of the first two launches.
Parmitano and Morgan returned to the air unit, closed the hatch and began repression at 1:18 a.m. to complete the six-hour 39-minute space flight, 222nd since the station was erected in 1998, the ninth so far. this year, the third for Parmitano and the fourth for Morgan.
"I have to tell you, you made the ground crew terribly happy and proud of you guys today, just a great, great job," broadcast Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen of Mission Control. "We are very, very pleased with where we stand to go forward, to get back up and running the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer. So congratulations to all of you."
It took engineers and astronauts four years to create a working repair plan. , developing some two dozen personalized testing tools and procedures during multiple underwater drills. Parmitano and Morgan completed seven long training sessions before departing for the station in July.
"We had to go out and figure out how to create a work site, we had to build new railings to install on existing hardware, we had to deal with existing sharp edges and in many cases create new sharp edges using tools that have sharp edges on them, "said Johim.
" We did our best to minimize this risk for the crew member and then, of course, for (repairing) the payload itself, "she said "But they are certainly very challenging and technical Launched in 2011 for the next space shuttle mission, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, is one of the most expensive scientific instruments ever put into space.  It is built around a powerful electromagnet that bends the trajectories of electrically charged cosmic ray particles created by explosions of supernovae and other extreme-energy events, allowing trajectory researchers to characterize their velocities and energies.
The purpose is to learn what happened to the antimatter, thought to have been created in the great explosion of the cosmos, to learn more about the unseen dark matter that penetrates the space and eventually gain an idea of the nature of dark energy , the mysterious repulsive force that accelerates the expansion of the universe. Designed to operate in just three years, AMS proved to be longer than expected, detecting more than 145 billion cos microbeams over eight and a half years of operation. But in recent months, the appliance has been boiled by the phasing-out of four small pumps needed to circulate carbon dioxide coolant through its sensitive detectors.
In order to repair AMS, Parmitano and Morgan will need to cut eight small cooling lines and interweave into, or "swage", new lines leading to a custom pump replacement module put into the station earlier this month. The pump module will be installed during the third space path.
"We will cut off the tubes and then integrate them with other tubes (started) from Earth and install a completely new pump to support the work in the refrigerator, keeping the magnet cold so that the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer can work," he said Parmitano. "This is really the first attempt to do any of these actions."