Two NASA astronauts approached the International Space Station on Wednesday (August 21) to install a new docking port for incoming commercial spacecraft on the fifth spacewalk from the station.
Nick Hague and Andrew Morgan began their 6-hour and 32-minute spacewalk at 8:27 am (12:27 GMT) and left the US-built Quest Airlock after switching their spacesuits to battery power.
The pair installed the International Docking Adapter-3 (IDA-3) on the room-facing side of the station's Harmony connection module. IDA-3 will serve as the second docking port at the space station for commercial spacecraft built by Boeing and SpaceX. NASA has typed Boeing's Starliner capsule and SpaceX's Crew Dragon spaceship to transport astronauts to and from the space station in the future.
The spacewalk was Morgan's first adventure outside the space station, while Hague has already completed two spacewalks this year, replacing some of the solar batteries Station. During the excursion on Wednesday, Hague was the first, followed by Morgan a few minutes later, as the station floated across the Atlantic.
Hague's mother watched the action from Earth at NASA's Mission Control Center at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Apparently she prepared some special delicacies for the ground-based air traffic controllers who helped the astronauts on their spacewalk.
"I heard she was busy in the kitchen yesterday," Hague beamed at Mission Control as he laid the cables outside the station. "I'm glad you liked it and I'm jealous." NASA did not announce in its Spacewalk comment which dishes Hague's mother prepared.
Hague and Morgan were expected to have difficulty wrapping the cables of the docking adapters that have been burning in the sun since their delivery five years ago on the outside of the station. But these fears seemed unfounded. The astronauts laid the cables effortlessly and even ended prematurely.
The only problems that the Spacewalkers had encountered occurred when they stowed a bulky thermal cover for their tools. Mike Barratt, also an astronaut at Mission Control, said, "It's like hitting a big enemy marshmallow."
After installing the docking port, Hague and Morgan installed two key reflectors on the IDA-3, which serve as a docking aid for visiting spacecraft and providing visual cues for incoming vehicles.
Hague and Morgan also got an extra hand from Canada's Dextre, a two-arm robot launched in 2008.
The station's six-person Expedition 60 crew includes NASA astronaut Christina Koch, Russian cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Alexander Skvortsov, and astronaut Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency. Ovchinin orders the expedition 60 mission.
The crew also deals with scientific research on board such as rodent experiments and the differentiation of stem cells. NASA's plan to deploy commercial spacecraft such as SpaceX's Crew Dragon and Boeing's Starliner will drive scientific research and technological development to advance the agency's future missions to the Moon and Mars, a statement issued in . ]
With the spacewalk on Wednesday, Haag's total time outside the space station is 19 hours and 59 minutes on three spacewalks. Morgan finished the day with 6 hours and 32 minutes of spacewalk as it was his first career.
"Welcome to the club, you did a brilliant job," congratulated Barratt Morgan as he stepped back into the station.
Morgan apparently enjoyed his first spacewalk.
"It's a special thing we have to do and it's an honor to be part of such an outstanding team," Morgan said.