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International space station is undergoing a new upgrade to Boeing and SpaceX visits

Two NASA astronauts floated outside the International Space Station early Wednesday and helped Boeing and SpaceX .

Floating in the station's quest airlock, astronauts Nick Hague and Drew Morgan switched their power to battery power at 08:27 a.m. EDT to officially begin the 218th space station assembly and maintenance excursion since construction began in 1998.

The new international docking adapter, or IDA, which launches to the station last month aboard a SpaceX Dragon cargo ship. Harmony's upper port.

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Christina Koch, working in harmony with her husband, is working on her car.

flight controllers confirmed the $ 22.5 million IDA which was locked in place at the PMA, the spacewalkers installed wiring to expand the lab's external wireless network and connected a jumper routing backup to the robot arm.

The previously routed IDA cables "baked in the sun and had UV (ultraviolet radiation) and AO (atomic oxygen) exposure, so we expect them to be very difficult to manipulate and route, "said Alex Kanelakos, the lead spacewalk officer at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

"And Nick, while."

As it turned out, the spacewalkers had no major problems getting the cables connected.

"And Nick, while astronaut Mike Barratt radioed at one point from mission control.

"I heard her busy in the kitchen yesterday," Hague replied. I'm jealous. "

" Well, we have a certain jealousy of what you guys are doing as well. "

Hague and Morgan finished their tasks on time and returned to the airlock, ending the 6-hour 32-minute spacewalk at 1:59 pm It was the fifth station outing so far this year, the third for Hague and the first for Morgan. Total space station EVA time now stands at 1.367 hours and 26 minutes, or 57 days.

segment of the space station features four ports where visiting vehicles can dock on their own or be berthed by the lab's robot arm.

Space shuttles docked at the front end of the Harmony module, and that port has already been docked with a Boeing-built international docking system SpaceX's Crew Dragon ferry ship or Boeing's CST-100 Starliner.

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Two Earth-facing ports, one on Harmony and the other on the central Unity module, are used to berth visiting cargo ships built by SpaceX, Northrop Grumman and JAXA, the Japanese space agency.

NASA launches the first IDA aboard a Space Dragon Cargo ship in June 2015, but its Falcon 9 rocket suffered a catastrophic failure on the way to orbit, destroying the Dragon and its payload. IDA-2, which is successfully launched on Harmony's forward port. IDA-3, the subject of Wednesday's spacewalk, is a replacement for the one that was lost in 2015.

"It really creates the second docking port for not." Kirk Shireman, space station program manager at the Johnson Space Center, said: "Only commercial crew vehicles, but one of our cargo vehicles will be docked there in the future."

Boeing hopes to launch its Starlite capsule on an unpiloted flight in the October timeframe, followed by a test flight with three crew members aboard before the end of the year. SpaceX launches a crew of spacecraft on a successful unpiloted flight to the station in March, but the company is still recovering from an April test failure and it's not known when it's first crewed mission.

But the initial flights wants to dock at the station's forward port. Later, the crew ships and SpaceX's second-generation Dragon cargo craft wants to begin using the upper port as well. Shireman said having two ports with active docking mechanisms will allow NASA to make sure astronauts are always on board the space station.

"It really allows us to make sure we have people on board all the time," he said. Number one, at least one of our cargo vehicles will come and dock (at IDA).

"And then finally, NASA's got this big initiative to do all kinds of commercial activities. One of them is private astronaut missions. So we expect that other private vehicles come to the ISS on that docking port. So we really need to have this capability. "

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