Astronauts take a walk in space

Expedition 50 astronauts gears up for Friday spacewalk outside space station

Expedition 50 astronauts gears up for Friday spacewalk outside space station

NASA astronauts are strolling through the untamed vacuum of space to retrofit the International Space Station.

Astronauts aboard the ISS went on a spacewalk Friday and prepped the space station so they can later install "the second of two parking spots for space taxis", France-based global news service AFP has reported.

Two astronauts on board the International Space Station (ISS) will conduct up to three spacewalks outside it in late March and early April to prepare for the future arrival of US commercial crew spacecraft and upgrade station hardware. The first spacewalk is scheduled for today.

Kimbrough was tasked with disconnecting the Pressurized Mating Adapter-3 (PMA-3), which allows different kinds spacecraft to use the space station's docking ports.

The second spacewalk is scheduled to take place March 30 with Kimbrough and Whitson.

This will be the 198th, 199th and 200th spacewalks in support of space station assembly and maintenance.

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Whitson will be making the eighth and ninth spacewalks of her career more than any other female astronaut. Pesquet will undertake the second and third spacewalks in his career. With Friday's spacewalk, Kimbrough has finished five spacewalks and has a total of 32 hours doing extravehicular activities (EVAs).

The plan for the final spacewalk is for Whitson and Pesquet to replace an avionics box on the starboard truss called an ExPRESS Logistics Carrier, a storage platform.

A new docking device - similar to one installed last summer - will fly up late this year or early next, and hook onto this port. "It's time to get crewmember eyeballs on the area and get a human evaluation to determine whether we have any damage to the system". Just to be sure, he carried a high-definition GoPro camera to capture footage for ground crews to investigate the scene more closely. Once he's done with that, Pesquet will then grease up the end of one of the station's robotic arms, which is in need of some lubrication. It updates the ports the space shuttle used to dock with the station. He spent almost 4 hours using the ballscrew lubrication tool to inject grease into the LEE.

On Sunday, flight controllers in Houston, Texas, will move the old port to provide better clearance for new ships.

The two spacewalkers finally made it back to the airlock for good, ending the mission at 1:58 p.m. EDT (1758 GMT). Kimbrough's two spacewalks will be the fifth and sixth of his career. Pesquet has completed two spacewalks - counting Friday's - and has 12.5 hours of EVA hours. "Shane Kimbrough had some sticky connectors, and the foot restraint has been a bit unwieldy at times for Thomas Pesquet", Huot said.

Kimbrough and Whitson will reconnect cables and electrical connections on PMA-3 at its new home on top Harmony.

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