NASA astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) successfully finished first of the three scheduled spacewalks to perform the necessary maintenance tasks.
NASA astronauts Barry Wilmore and Terry Virts completed the first stage of preparations outside the ISS to install new docking ports for future US-made crew capsules. During the first of three scheduled spacewalks, Barry Wilmore and Terry Virts routed over 100 meters of cables.
The spacewalk series is being conducted primarily to route cables to accommodate the delivery of new docking adapters that commercial crew vehicles will use in the future to bring astronauts to the ISS. The space agency has awarded contracts to Boeing and SpaceX to develop, test and fly capsules that can taxi astronauts to and from the station.
The spacewalk, which was conducted by Wilmore and Virts, lasted for six and half hours. The two astronauts routed around 103 meters of cable, rigging eight power and data lines. The longest single stretch in space of the cable was 43 feet. The astronauts have 233 meters of cable to run outside the space station for the installation of docking adaptors ahead of the arrival of new American-made crew capsules.
The astronauts also rigged a series of power and data cables at the forward end of the Harmony module and Pressurized Mating Adapter-2 and routed 340 of 360 feet of cable.
NASA stated that this current assignment is the toughest job in the ISS history. However, running the cable inside the ISS before the installation of the two new International Docking Adapters won’t be a walk in the park either. The Boeing-built docking ports are still under development and the first is expected to arrive at the ISS this summer.
NASA spokesperson said, “The cable routing work is part of a reconfiguration of station systems and modules to accommodate the delivery of new docking adapters that commercial crew vehicles will use later this decade to deliver astronauts to the orbital laboratory.”
Wilmore and Virts will again venture outside the space station on February 25 to deploy two more cables and lubricate the end of the space station’s robotic arm.