Two International Space Station (ISS) astronauts will venture outside the spacecraft on Friday (January 6, 2017) at 7 a.m. EST (1200 UTC) to perform a complex upgrade to the station’s power system. Coverage of the spacewalk will begin at 5:30 a.m. EST (1030 UTC) on NASA TV.
Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough and Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson of NASA will perform Friday’s spacewalk. This will be Kimbrough’s third spacewalk. He’ll be be designated extravehicular crew member 1 (EV 1), wearing the suit with red stripes. Whitson will be making the seventh spacewalk of her career. She’ll be designated extravehicular crew member 2 (EV 2), wearing the suit with no stripes.
The work will continue on January 13 during a second spacewalk, which will be conducted by Kimbrough and Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency).
Here’s what the astronauts will be doing outside the station, according to a NASA statement:
Working on the right side truss of the space station, the crew members will install adapter plates and hook up electrical connections for six new lithium-ion batteries that were delivered to the station in December, 2016.
Prior to each spacewalk, the new batteries will be robotically extracted from a pallet to replace 12 older nickel-hydrogen batteries through a series of robotic operations. Nine of the older batteries will be stowed in a cargo resupply craft for later disposal, while three will remain on the station’s truss, disconnected from the power grid. The robotic operations will not air on NASA TV.
Bottom line: on Friday, January 6, two ISS astronauts will perform the first spacewalk of 2017.
Eleanor Imster has helped write and edit EarthSky since 1995. She was an integral part of the award-winning EarthSky radio series almost since it began until it ended in 2013. Today, as Lead Editor at EarthSky.org, she helps present the science and nature stories and photos you enjoy. She also serves as one of the voices of EarthSky on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and G+. She and her husband live in Tennessee and have two grown sons.