NASA gave astronauts Jeff Williams and Kate Rubins a spacewalk mission that they are in the middle of carrying out on Friday. NASA is live-streaming the event on their YouTube channel so everyone can watch.
The mission was to install a new 1-meter by 1.6-meter docking port that will work with commercial crew spacecraft. The docking station was sent into space by a SpaceX Dragon cargo ship last month and is the first of two that will be attached. Another version of the adapter will go into space in 2018 to be attached again.
Installing it will allow new spacecraft from SpaceX and Boeing to connect with the International Space Station in space, which will move the United States forward in providing independent missions without having to rely on other nations to get astronauts into space.
Attaching this piece of equipment to the International Space Station is no easy task. It is expected to be a six-and-a-half-hour mission. While it began at 8:05 A.M. EST time, it’s unknown if the astronauts will complete the mission before the six-and-a-half hours are up.
So far, NASA says the astronauts are about 30 minutes ahead of the game, and there may be some additional "add-on" tasks that could need to be completed while the astronauts are already out there.
Usually, astronauts are quick enough to finish projects before the estimated times and get a little while to hang out outside the International Space Station, although it’s not very often that this happens because being outside of the International Space Station is very dangerous due to all the space junk surrounding the crew.
So far, things have gone pretty well. The only thing that has been a difficult task for the astronauts so far has been attaching some of the finicky wires. The docking station is firmly-planted to the International Space Station as of this writing and the astronauts are just adding their finishing touches.
Additionally, the astronauts' space suits appear to be functioning properly, which the same can't be said for a previous spacewalk where British astronaut Tim Peake and U.S. astronaut Tim Kopra both noticed air leaks in their helmets.