Last week, two astronauts went outside the International Space Station (ISS) to perform repairs and maintenance on the structure. The astrophotographer Dr. Sebastian Voltmer managed to photograph the astronauts outside the space station from his backyard.
See astronauts outside the ISS from Earth
dr Voltmer lives in Sankt Wendel, Germany, which is also where one of the two astronauts conducting the spacewalk is from – Matthias Maurer. dr Voltmer decided to capture the ESA astronaut’s first spacewalk as best as possible, not only from Earth but also from Maurer’s hometown. Thanks to a powerful telescope and a robotic mount, he did.
“I used a C11 EdgeHD telescope on a 10 micron GM 2000 HPS mount. The day before the ISS pass, I updated my mount with the current coordinates of the space station,” he says PetaPixels. “With my servo motors, I was able to follow the really fast ISS.”
dr Voltmer demonstrates how to track and photograph the ISS in a video he released a few days before the planned spacewalk.
“I was able to capture these images of the International Space Station (ISS) in the best viewing conditions from the hometown of ESA astronaut Dr. Matthias Maurer,” he says. “The resolution of the images shows details around 20 cm. The docked SpaceX Dragon capsule, with which the current Crew-3 flew to the ISS, is clearly visible.”
He says PetaPixels that he took his successful strategy from that early morning shoot and implemented it when Maurer was supposed to be on the outside of the space station, updating his mount with the latest coordinates of the ISS ahead of its appearance in the sky on March 23.
He captured the incredible moment just after sunset, showing enough detail to make out bricklayers, a robotic arm, and the new external camera attached to the station’s truss.
“During the spacewalk of the two astronauts Raja Chari and Matthias Maurer, the International Space Station appeared in the bright evening sky over Germany shortly after sunset. This image of the ISS passport was taken on March 23, 2022 in good seeing conditions by my C11 EdgeHD telescope from the hometown of ESA astronaut Dr. Matthias Maurer,” writes Dr. Voltmer further space weather.
“The docked SpaceX Dragon capsule that flew the Crew-3 astronauts to the ISS is clearly visible. I met Matthias Maurer three years ago at our SpaceStudio in Nohfelden, which is close to Matthias’ hometown,” he continues.
“First of all, I published a first photo showing where Matthias Maurer appeared on the ISS. Due to time constraints, I immediately posted this version online, which then went viral while I continued to work on the final image version with both astronauts highlighted.”
The photo below was taken by Philip Smith, another ISS photographer, who noticed that Dr. In addition to Mauer, Voltmer’s picture also shows Chari and the robotic arm “Canadarm2”.
dr Voltmer is understandably pleased with the successful acquisition.
“I feel like I just took a unique picture,” he says. “It is probably the first ground-based image showing two astronauts on the ISS at the same time.”
ISS astronauts spacewalk to perform maintenance
According to NASA, Expedition 66 Flight Engineers Raja Chari from NASA and Matthias Maurer from ESA (European Space Agency) started a spacewalk to install tubing on a Radiator Beam Valve Module on the morning of March 23, 2022 to aid in temperature control on the ISS. The duo’s main task was to install the thermal system and electronic components on the outside of the space station.
Maurer and Chari completed their spacewalk six hours and 54 minutes later, completing the 248th spacewalk in support of space station assembly. It was Chari’s second spacewalk and Maurer’s first.
In addition to their main duties, the two also installed a power and data cable on the Columbus module’s Bartolomeo science platform, replaced an external camera on the station’s truss, and made other upgrades to the station’s hardware. The pair deferred some secondary duties like torque reset and cable routing to a future spacewalk.
Photo credit: Header image of Dr. Sebastian Voltmer, www.voltmer.photo.