Two American astronauts will set up docking port at ISS


HOUSTON – NASA officials held a briefing to preview the spacewalk at the International Space Station scheduled for next week, which will be led by two American crew members from Expedition 60.

The spacewalk is essentially to set up a second docking site at the lower Earth-orbiting lab, allowing for many more possibilities for NASA, commercial and private missions.

"It really opens up a variety of opportunities for us. It's really important that we have this additional capability," Kirk Shireman, ISS program manager, said.

The International Docking Adapter 3 was brought to space nestled in the exterior trunk of the last SpaceX cargo launch. It is what will be installed Wednesday, Aug. 21.

"It really is creating the second docket for not only commercial crew vehicles, but also one of our cargoes will be docking in the not too distant future," Shireman said.

Doing the work will be an American astronaut duo, veteran spacewalker and airman Col. Nick Hague and ISS newcomer, Army soldier and emergency physician Lt. Col Andrew Morgan.

"We talked to them this morning, and they're excited. They're ready to go," Scott Stover, NASA spacewalk flight director, said.

"Crew members get about 18 hours' worth of spacewalk training before they go," Alex Kanelakos, lead spacewalk officer, said.

Running through the motions, installing the adapter, routing cables in Houston's Neutral Buoyancy Lab. This second docking port will sit at the top of the space station in the "Zenith" portion of the ISS. It will eventually be a place where SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule and Boeing's Starliner will dock along with private astronaut visits and cargo missions, opening up new doors for the future of space.

"If we have two ports, we can have the next vehicle come dock before the previous vehicle goes home, and so it allows us to make sure we have people on board all the time," Shireman said.

The spacewalk will be 6.5 hours long. It is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 21. NASA coverage begins at 5:30 a.m. CDT. You can watch it at www.nasa.gov/nasalive.