Aerospace & Defense

Information Technology


Emerging Capabilities

Cargo Mission Contract Team Rallies to Ship Hardware for Spacesuit Repair on ISS


Astronaut Luca Parmintano removing his spacesuit following a spacewalk cancellation due to water in his helmet.

Credit: NASA TV

A July 16 spacewalk ended early when water leaked into one of the astronaut’s helmets. With the crew safely in the International Space Station (ISS), efforts turned to understanding the cause of the leak and how to fix it. As any homeowner can attest, repairs require tools and parts.

From laptops and printers to housekeeping materials, and in this case, tools, Lockheed Martin is responsible for processing NASA cargo for ISS resupply through the Cargo Mission Contract (CMC). CMC is also responsible for providing engineering services in support of a wide variety of NASA equipment.  When NASA determined tools and repair parts needed to be sent to the ISS for spacesuit repairs, our team stepped up to ensure the delivery was accomplished in short order.

The typical cargo processing procedure takes about five weeks due to rigorous planning, coordination, preparation and packing. Because NASA often works with international partners to send the cargo to the ISS, the cargo needs to be shipped to its launch destination, which also requires additional documentation. To meet this critical need for repair tools and parts, the team was able to expedite the process to within four days.

“The CMC team worked diligently over the weekend to ensure we could meet NASA’s request to get the ISS crew these important tools,” said Jerry McDonald, CMC program manager. “Sometimes that took creative thinking.”

The next available launch vehicle to the ISS was a Russian Progress resupply mission launching from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, on July 26. With such a short lead time NASA determined that the fastest way to get the equipment to Baikonur was to hand carry the equipment. To ensure full compliance with regulatory requirements, CMC planned and coordinated the courier’s mission with the Transportation Security Administration and air carrier to ensure unimpeded travel to “catch a rocket.”

CMC’s rapid response ensured that the courier safely delivered his cargo just in time for launch and the equipment was delivered on orbit to the ISS on July 29.

“This was truly a team effort, and I want to thank everyone at CMC for their dedication in ensuring our astronauts are safe and literally have the equipment they need to complete their missions,” said McDonald.

  • Responding to a leak in an astronaut's helmet, Lockheed Martin organized the logistics to put the right repair tools into space.
  • The team shortened a five week shipping time to meet a launch window four days away.
  • The team's rapid response ensured that a courier safely delivered the cargo just in time for launch and that the equipment was delivered on orbit to the ISS on July 29.