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NASA's Johnson Space Center, ISS Crew Prepare Upcoming Spacewalks, First of Three Started Friday

Mar 24, 2017 02:24 PM EDT
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The crew aboard the International Space Station (ISS) is busy preparing for three scheduled spacewalks. The first one started on March 24 with NASA astronaut and ISS commander Shane Kimbrough and ESA astronaut and ISS flight engineer Thomas Pesquet performing system checks outside the space station.

NASA's Johnson Space Center will lead all three spacewalks. The first one started on Friday, March 24 streamed live courtesy of NASA TV. Each of the three spacewalks will last for six hours. The scheduled missions will prepare the ISS for the arrival of commercial spacecraft.

"We're trying to take that to the next level with commercially launched capabilities for crew," Kenneth Todd, ISS Operations Integration Manager, said in a statement. "And in order to do that, we as an SS program have to give them a place to come to. So these EVAs (Extravehicular Activity) or the first couple really are focused on establishing that port to have a commercial vehicle come and see us."

The current on-going spacewalk [as of this writing] targets the docking system outside the space station in a mission called U.S. EVA-40. The new spacecraft scheduled to arrive at the ISS will use the parking latch to attach to the ISS.

Reports say that this specific mission expresses NASA's intent to allow private commercial space flights companies to transport humans to the ISS. This will also give NASA a broader range of transporter alternatives, instead of relying solely on Russian rockets to carry astronauts to space.

"Peggy [Whitson] and Thomas [Pesquet] will be acting as construction workers, electricians and scientists to install a lot of hardware," Alex Kanelakos, U.S. EVA #42 Spacewalk Officer, said in the same report.

The first spacewalk started at 7:24 a.m when astronauts left the inside of the ISS using the Quest airlock. Commander Kimbrough is performing his fifth spacewalk while the younger crew Pesquet is on his second.

The next two spacewalks are scheduled for March 30 and April 6, according to a report.

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