CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (AP) – Spacewalking astronauts routed more than 300 feet (90 metres) of cable outside the International Space Station on Saturday, tricky and tiring advance work for the arrival of new American-made crew capsules.
It was the first of three spacewalks planned for NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Terry Virts over the coming week.
Altogether, Wilmore and Virts have 764 feet (233 metres) of cable to run outside the space station. They got off to a strong start Saturday, rigging eight power and data lines, or about 340 feet (104 metres). The longest single stretch was 43 feet (13 metres).
“Broadening my resume,” Virts observed.
NASA considers this the most complicated cable-routing job in the 16-year history of the space station. Equally difficult will be running cable on the inside of the complex. The extensive rewiring is needed to prepare for NASA’s next phase 260 miles (418 kilometres) up: the 2017 arrival of the first commercial spacecraft capable of transporting astronauts to the orbiting lab.
NASA is paying Boeing and SpaceX to build the capsules and fly them from Cape Canaveral, which hasn’t seen a manned launch since the shuttle fleet retired in 2011. Instead, Russia is doing all the taxi work – for a steep price.