Every once in a while, the International Space Station requires maintenance. As you might expect, this sometimes requires leaving the comfort zone of the spacecraft itself to go on what’s called a spacewalk, or when the astronauts have to put on their space suits and exit the spacecraft (while tethered to it, of course) in order to fix, build, or maintain the outside of the craft.
It’s not exactly an easy thing to do. The International Space Station is travelling at 17,500 miles per hour around the Earth, orbiting the planet approximately once every 90 minutes, or 16 times per day. As a result, the astronauts see 16 sunrises and 16 sunsets each day.
Wednesday morning, at approximately 8 A.M. Eastern time, astronauts Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren began their spacewalk mission to perform some upgrades and maintenance on the International Space Station. It’s worth noting that this is the first spacewalk experience for both of the astronauts.
Some of the maintenance includes greasing the bearings of the International Space Station’s robotic arm, routing some new power and data cables for future docking missions, preventative maintenance to prevent potential future failures, and more.
Here, you can see NASA astronaut Scott Kelly routing some data cables on the outside of the International Space Station:
Some more images are included below:
Despite having started early this morning, the astronauts are still in the middle of their spacewalk as of this writing. NASA notes that the longest spacewalk ever was 8 hours and 56 minutes long, so it’s unknown at this point in time whether or not that timeframe record will be shattered today. The spacewalk is scheduled to take approximately 6.5 hours in total, assuming everything goes as planned.
NASA has been keeping followers up to date via the official International Space Station Twitter page, where it has been posting images and videos of the astronauts doing work on the International Space Station from the outside. What you get to see is the beautiful view of the Earth underneath them, as well as the point of view of the astronauts doing the work.
You can watch the live stream of the event below: