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NASA Conducts Spacewalk to Install Adapters on ISS for Boeing, SpaceX Capsules - Interesting Engineering

NASA conducted a spacewalk yesterday to install new adapters onto the ISS for Boeing and SpaceX capsules to dock with the International Space Station.

August 22nd, 2019
NASA Conducts Spacewalk to Install Adapters on ISS for Boeing, SpaceX Capsules

NASA astronauts conducted a six and a half-hour long spacewalk yesterday to install adapters to the docking ports of the International Space Station that are designed to fit both Boeing's Starliner and SpaceX Dragon capsules, a major step towards commercializing the orbital research station.

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Installation of new docking adapters

NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Andrew Morgan conducted a major spacewalk yesterday afternoon to install a new International Docking Adapter (IDA) to one of the docking ports of the International Space Station (ISS), CBS News reports.

The Adapter is designed to enable automated docking for both SpaceX Dragon Crew and Boeing CST-100 Starliner capsules. It is also meant to be the standard for other future capsules from other companies that may want to dock with the ISS.

Six and a half hour spacewalk

The spacewalk, which was the 218th for the ISS since construction began in 1998, started a few minutes after its scheduled 8:20 AM EST start time, with astronauts Hague and Morgan switching over to battery power at 8:27 AM EST.

The IDA was brought to the ISS onboard SpaceX's CRS-18 resupply mission in July, and the IDA was lifted out of a housing on SpaceX's Dragon last week by the ISS's robot arm. It then positioned the IDA above a pressurized mating adapter (PMA) on the part of the ISS known as Harmony in preparation for yesterday's spacewalk.

Climbing out to the IDA, the astronauts used electrical cables that had been installed during earlier spacewalks three years ago to connect the IDA to the ISS's power supply, whereupon NASA astronaut Christina Koch, at the docking controls inside Harmony, was able to test and confirm the connection to the IDA's systems.

After the IDA was secured to the PMA on Harmony, the two astronauts performed additional maintenance while they were outside the ISS, including installing new wiring to expand the ISS's external wireless network and add a connection to provide back-up power to the ISS's robot arm.

The spacewalk, the 5th of the year so far, which was Hague's third spacewalk and Morgan's first, finished up after 6 hours and 32 minutes at 1:59 PM EST.

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