On Dec. 7, 1998, NASA astronauts Jerry Ross and Jim Newman walked into space for the first spacewalk in support of the International Space Station. Nearly 19 years later, NASA astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer are tinkering around the outside of the space station again and making history. Today’s trek into space marks the 200th spacewalk at the International Space Station.
Earlier this morning, Whitson and Fischer exited the Quest airlock of the ISS. Their mission? To replace a large avionics box that helps power the science experiments onboard the space station. The pair will replace the ExPRESS Carrier Avionics (ExPCA) with a fresh unit delivered last month by Orbital ATK’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft. And that’s just part of the mission.
Whitson and Fischer are also set to float over to the Harmony module to install a protective shield on the Pressurized Mating Adapter-3. This adapter will be home to a new international docking port. Soon, spacecraft launched from the U.S. will dock here to deliver future NASA astronauts.
The pair of spacewalkers will also hook up a new HD camera and a set of wireless antennas on the outside of the ISS.
Today’s spacewalk builds on a historic career for Peggy Whitson. She already holds the U.S. record for most spacewalks by a female astronaut. Now, she has nine trips into outer space under her belt. For Fischer, it’s his first.
It’s pretty damn nuts watching the pair work outside the ISS. All while the station zips around Earth at around 17,000 miles per hour.
The spacewalk was originally slated to last six hours or so, but NASA is shortening it to about four hours. Whitson is wearing the spacesuit with red stripes. Fischer is wearing one with no stripes.
“Managers in mission control decided to shorten the spacewalk from the original six and a half hour plan, due to available battery power for the spacesuits,” according to NASA.
This morning’s spacewalk began just after 9 am EST. So, you can still watch it for a couple of hours before it wraps up.
Would you go on a spacewalk? You know the experience has to be insane, but how do they keep their palms from sweating?