Two Expedition 50 astronauts will head outside the International Space Station (ISS) today for the second spacewalk this month to wrap up a power upgrade.
Shane Kimbrough of NASA and Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency emerged from the station's Quest airlock today (Jan. 13) at about 6:30 a.m. EST (1230 GMT) after switching their suits to battery power more than 30 minutes ahead of schedule. They'll spend about 6 and a half hours floating around outside the station's truss, installing new lithium-ion batteries and adapter plates. You can watch the spacewalk coverage live here on Space.com, courtesy of NASA TV.
In the hours leading up to the spacewalk, Peggy Whitson of NASA and Oleg Novitskiy of the Russian space agency Roscosmos assisted Kimbrough and Pesquet as they geared up in their extravehicular mobility unit (EMU) spacesuits before helping to send the two spacewalkers out the door.
For superstitious folks, Friday the 13th may not sound like a great day for a spacewalk. But Kimbrough didn't seem fazed by this allegedly unlucky day when he was asked about it in a preflight interview on NASA TV on Jan. 3. "No, we're looking forward to going out … on the 13th," he said with a smile.
Last week, Kimbrough and Whitson successfully completed the first of two spacewalks for the power upgrade; they hooked up electrical connections and installed three adapter plates for three of the six new lithium-ion batteries.
Today's spacewalk will be Kimbrough's fourth and Pesquet's first. Kimbrough will be designated extravehicular crewmember 1 (EV 1), which means that he will wear the spacesuit with red stripes. He'll also lead the way when the two astronauts exit the airlock. Pesquet, a first-timer at the ISS, will be EVA 2, and his suit will bear no red stripes.
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Hanneke Weitering is a multimedia journalist in the Pacific Northwest reporting on the future of aviation at FutureFlight.aero and Aviation International News and was previously the Editor for Spaceflight and Astronomy news here at Space.com. As an editor with over 10 years of experience in science journalism she has previously written for Scholastic Classroom Magazines, MedPage Today and The Joint Institute for Computational Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. After studying physics at the University of Tennessee in her hometown of Knoxville, she earned her graduate degree in Science, Health and Environmental Reporting (SHERP) from New York University. Hanneke joined the Space.com team in 2016 as a staff writer and producer, covering topics including spaceflight and astronomy. She currently lives in Seattle, home of the Space Needle, with her cat and two snakes. In her spare time, Hanneke enjoys exploring the Rocky Mountains, basking in nature and looking for dark skies to gaze at the cosmos.