It’s been business as usual for astronauts and cosmonauts on the International Space Station for the past several weeks, but there was a bit more excitement to go around this past Wednesday as NASA astronauts Andrew Morgan and Nick Hague floated outside of the safety of the International Space Station’s walls to conduct a NASA-ordered spacewalk assignment.
Image Credit: NASA
Morgan and Hague were tasked with installing a second docking adapter on the outside of the International Space Station, a move that will make docking crewed commercial space vehicles made by both Boeing and SpaceX at the Earth-orbiting space lab possible as the United States shies away from paying Russia to rent seats on its Soyuz rockets for the same purpose.
Mission Control guided the astronauts through the process as the entire spacewalk was streamed live on NASA’s website and on YouTube. According to the official stopwatch, the spacewalk lasted for approximately 6.5 hours, after which the astronauts retreated back to the safety of the International Space Station to celebrate a job well done.
A video recording of the multi-hour spacewalk is available for your viewing pleasure below:
The docking adapter was purportedly delivered to the International Space Station just last month during one of SpaceX’s Falcon rocket resupply missions. While installing it, the spacewalking astronauts attached data and power cables and installed specialized reflectors that will help commercial spacecraft navigate to the docking station sometime in the future.
Crewed flights by way of Boeing’s Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsules are expected to happen sometime before the end of this year, or at the start of next year by the latest. On the other hand, both companies have seen unexpected delays in achieving previous expectations, especially with one of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsules flaring up unexpectedly during a Super Draco engine static fire test.
Assuming everything goes according to plan, the upgraded docking adapter will assist in pursuing deep space missions, such as project Artemis, which will involve sending astronauts to the Moon for long periods in the name of scientific research. Plans are also unfolding to build the Lunar Gateway as NASA moves toward the commercialization the International Space Station.