WASHINGTON, March 24 (Xinhua) -- Two astronauts ventured outside the International Space Station on Friday to prepare the orbiting laboratory for future arrivals by U.S. commercial crew spacecraft.
Shane Kimbrough of the U.S. space agency NASA and Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency, are expected to spend about six and a half hours on the first of three spacewalks scheduled to take place over the next two weeks.
Friday's major tasks included preparing a structure called Pressurized Mating Adapter-3 (PMA-3) for future installation of the second International Docking Adapter, which will accommodate commercial crew vehicle dockings.
Kimbrough and Pesquet "will disconnect cables and electrical connections on PMA-3 to prepare for its robotic move Sunday, March 26," NASA said in a statement.
"PMA-3 will be moved from the port side of the Tranquility module to the space-facing side of the Harmony module, where it will become home for the docking adapter, which will be delivered on a future flight of a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft," it said.
The spacewalkers are also expected to install a new computer relay box equipped with software for the adapter, lubricate part of the space station's Canadarm2 robotic arm, inspect a radiator valve suspected of a small ammonia leak, as well as replace cameras on the Japanese segment of the outpost.
A second spacewalk is scheduled for March 30, with the final spacewalk for April 6.