Kimbrough, Whitson gear up for spacewalk

For the second time in less than a week, astronauts will leave their quarters inside the International Space Station on Thursday to outfit a relocated docking adapter to eventually receive Boeing and SpaceX commercial crew capsules.

Space station commander Shane Kimbrough and flight engineer Peggy Whitson will put on their pressurized spacesuits and switch them to internal battery power around 8 a.m. EDT (1200 GMT) to officially begin Thursday’s spacewalk.

The duo will reconnect cables on Pressurized Mating Adapter No. 3, which was robotically relocated Sunday from a port on the station’s Tranquility module to a location on the Harmony module. A new docking adapter will be installed on PMA-3 next year to make it compatible with spaceships in development by Boeing and SpaceX to ferry crews to and from the space station.

Kimbrough and Whitson will also install a new computer relay box on the station’s truss and place micrometeoroid and orbital debris shielding on PMA-3 and the now-vacant berthing mechanism where the adapter previously resided on Tranquility, according to NASA.

The spacewalk is scheduled to last about six-and-a-half hours. Kimbrough will wear a spacesuit distinguishable with red stripes, and Whitson’s suit will be all white.

Kimbrough and European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet ventured outside the space station last Friday, March 24, to prep PMA-3 for the move and complete a variety of other tasks.

Thursday’s spacewalk is the eighth of Whitson’s career, surpassing the record for the most number of EVAs by a female astronaut set by NASA astronaut Suni Williams. It is the sixth time Kimbrough has gone on a spacewalk.

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