Two International Space Station (ISS) astronauts successfully completed a spacewalk of six hours and 34 minutes on Friday, March 24, during which time they upgraded the space station to prepare for two new docking facilities, known as the International Docking Adapters.
SpaceX and Boeing, both of which are scheduled to begin transporting astronauts to the ISS in 2018, will use these docking sites.
French astronaut Thomas Pesquet worked on a radio valve thought to have a minor ammonia leak, but he found nothing wrong with the device.
He followed by lubricating the space station’s robotic arm, named Dextre, which is used to grab approaching spacecraft as well as move items around outside the ISS.
American astronaut Shane Kimbrough began preparations for a March 30 move of the ISS’s pressurized mating adapter (PMA-3) by disconnecting its cables and electrical connections.
The PMA-3, which will be moved during a separate spacewalk, will host the second of the two International Docking Adapters, scheduled to arrive in a future SpaceX cargo vessel.
Kimbrough also installed new computer equipment and cameras outside the ISS.
This was the second spacewalk for Pesquet and the fifth for Kimbrough.
Jessica Meir, a NASA astronaut who coordinated the spacewalk from mission control in Houston, described it as “Another great example of international collaboration and the work that we can do when we get a great team like this together.”
Kimbrough and NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson will take part in the March 30 spacewalk while Pequet is scheduled for an April 6 spacewalk with Whitson.
These will constitute Whitson’s eighth and ninth spacewalks, setting a new spacewalk record for a woman astronaut.
Whitson is also set to break the record for the most days spent in space by an American. Jeffrey Williams currently holds that record, having spent 534 days in space throughout his career.