By Sarah Moses Buckshot | [email protected]
HOUSTON — Astronaut Jeanette Epps, a Syracuse native, was guiding two astronauts at the International Space Station through a spacewalk from NASA’s mission control in Houston when there was a problem, according to a report.
A panel on the space station would not open, so Epps suggested using a pry bar, Space.com reported. Her suggestion worked, and despite the stubborn panel the spacewalking mission was successfully completed.
Epps, a Corcoran High School and Le Moyne College graduate, was supposed to go to the International Space Station as part of the Expedition 56/57 crew. She would have been the first African-American to live at the station. Fourteen African-Americans have gone to space and several have visited the station without staying. Epps was supposed to live there for about six months in 2018.
Epps, an aerospace engineer and former CIA analyst, joined the astronaut corps in 2009. NASA announced in January 2018 that Epps was removed from the crew, sparking speculation about why. NASA did not give a reason for her removal.
When she was pulled from the mission, Epps said everyone thought it was for health reasons, but that wasn’t the case, she said in October 2018. Regardless of why, Epps said “it was really a bad thing that happened.”
On Monday, Epps was in Houston guiding two spacewalking astronauts step-by-step through a mission to complete several repairs and upgrade tasks on the space station when Internet cable work caused some problems, Space.com reported.
NASA astronaut Anne McClain and Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques had to remove a micrometeroid orbital debris shield to access some cabling to upgrade connectivity for experiments on the space station, the website reported. One of the fasteners on the shield refused to loosen and eventually Epps suggested that Saint-Jacques grab a pry bar. He carefully inserted it under the panel, verifying first that he was in the right position before pushing.
“I feel some movement,” Saint-Jacques told Space.com. The two astronauts carefully jimmied the pry bar back and forth underneath the shield, eventually pulling the panel loose. “Got it” Saint-Jacques said. He and McClain exchanged a quick high-five before finishing the installation.
The panel, unfortunately, then refused to go back in, forcing the astronauts to remove and reinstall a nearby handlebar to squeeze the panel into position. With that task finished, McClain secured the panel with long-duration tie-down tethers before the astronauts moved on to their next task, the website reported.
‘It was really a bad thing that happened’: CNY astronaut Epps on removal from mission
Syracuse native Jeanette Epps spoke about NASA’s decision to pull her from space mission during a Washington, DC interview Monday night.