International space station gets a new docking port in key upgrade for Boeing and SpaceX visits



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Two NASA astronauts floated exterior the Worldwide House Station early Wednesday and helped connect a second docking port for industrial crew ships being constructed by Boeing and SpaceX. Additionally they routed and linked cables to broaden the lab’s exterior wi-fi community and supply backup energy to the station’s robotic arm.

Floating within the station’s Quest airlock, astronauts Nick Hague and Drew Morgan switched their fits to battery energy at 08:27 a.m. EDT to formally start the 218th house station meeting and upkeep tour since building started in 1998.

The brand new worldwide docking adapter, or IDA, was launched to the station final month aboard a SpaceX Dragon cargo ship. The lab’s robotic arm pulled the docking mechanism out of the Dragon’s trunk part earlier this week and positioned it straight atop a tunnel-like pressurized mating adaptor extending from Concord’s higher port.

Astronaut Nick Hague, high heart, and crewmate Drew Morgan, heart proper, join energy and knowledge cables to a brand new docking mechanism — the white construction slightly below Morgan — that gives a second port to be used by visiting industrial crew ships being constructed by SpaceX and Boeing.


Working with electrical cables that have been routed three years in the past throughout two earlier spacewalks, Hague and Morgan linked the IDA to station energy, permitting astronaut Christina Koch, working inside Concord, to ship instructions driving inner hooks to shut.

After flight controllers confirmed the $22.5 million IDA was firmly locked in place atop the PMA, the spacewalkers put in wiring to broaden the lab’s exterior wi-fi community and linked a jumper routing backup energy to the robotic arm.

The beforehand routed IDA cables “baked within the solar and had UV (ultraviolet radiation) and AO (atomic oxygen) publicity, so we anticipate them to be very troublesome to govern and route,” mentioned Alex Kanelakos, the lead spacewalk officer on the Johnson House Middle in Houston. “That is largely as a result of the truth that they will be stiff and wish to retain the coiled form.”

Because it turned out, the spacewalkers had no main issues getting the cables linked.

“And Nick, I’ve to inform you three pretty women have are available, considered one of astronaut Mike Barratt radioed from mission management.

“I heard she was busy within the kitchen yesterday,” Hague replied. “I hope everybody enjoys it. I am jealous.”

“Effectively, we’ve a sure jealousy of what you guys are doing as effectively. So I might say it is a good commerce.”

Hague and Morgan completed their duties on time and returned to the airlock, ending the 6-hour 32-minute spacewalk at 1:59 p.m. It was the fifth station outing thus far this yr, the third for Hague and the primary for Morgan. Whole house station EVA time now stands at 1,367 hours and 26 minutes, or 57 days.

The U.S. phase of the house station options 4 ports the place visiting autos can both dock on their very own or be berthed by the lab’s robotic arm. The Russian phase additionally options 4 ports which might be utilized by unpiloted Progress cargo craft and Soyuz crew ferry ships.

House shuttles docked on the entrance finish of the Concord module, and that port already has been geared up with a Boeing-built worldwide docking adapter that may accommodate both SpaceX’s Crew Dragon ferry ship or Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner.

House shuttles as soon as docked on the station the place IDA-2 is now put in. IDA-3, hooked up to the Concord module’s higher port, will present a second port for U.S. industrial crew ships and second-generation cargo ships.


Two Earth-facing ports, one on Concord and the opposite on the central Unity module, are used to berth visiting cargo ships constructed by SpaceX, Northrop Grumman and JAXA, the Japanese house company. The cargo ships are pulled in for berthing by the station’s robotic arm and people ports don’t require the seize mechanisms in an IDA.

NASA launched the primary IDA aboard a SpaceX Dragon cargo ship in June 2015, however its Falcon 9 rocket suffered a catastrophic failure on the way in which to orbit, destroying the Dragon and its payload. IDA-2 was efficiently launched later and put in on Concord’s ahead port. IDA-3, the topic of Wednesday’s spacewalk, is a alternative for the one which was misplaced in 2015.

“It truly is creating the second docking port for not solely industrial crew autos, however considered one of our cargo autos will probably be docking there within the not too distant future,” mentioned Kirk Shireman, house station program supervisor on the Johnson House Middle. “It is actually essential we’ve this extra functionality.”

Boeing hopes to launch is Starliner capsule on an unpiloted take a look at flight within the October timeframe, adopted by a take a look at flight with three crew members aboard earlier than the tip of the yr. SpaceX launched a Crew Dragon spacecraft on a profitable unpiloted flight to the station in March, however the firm continues to be recovering from an April take a look at failure and it is not identified when its first crewed mission would possibly get off the bottom.

However the preliminary flights will dock on the station’s ahead port. Later, the crew ships and SpaceX’s second-generation Dragon cargo craft will start utilizing the higher port as effectively. Shireman mentioned having two ports with lively docking mechanisms will permit NASA to ensure U.S. astronauts are at all times on board the house station.

“It actually permits us to ensure we’ve folks on board on a regular basis,” he mentioned. “That is primary. Quantity two is, no less than considered one of our cargo autos will come and dock (at an IDA). So it’s important to have an open port.

“After which lastly, NASA’s received this large initiative to do all types of business actions. One in every of them is non-public astronaut missions. So we anticipate that different non-public autos will come up and produce guests to the ISS on that docking port. So we actually must have this functionality.”

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