French astronaut Thomas Pesquet, a first-timer aboard the International Space Station, ventured out into the void of space for his first spacewalk on Friday (Jan. 13). While he spent nearly 6 hours working outside the orbiting laboratory, Pesquet snapped several photos, including some spectacular self-portraits.
Pesquet may be a spacewalking rookie, but he breezed through this first spacewalk like a veteran. NASA astronaut and International Space Station (ISS) commander Shane Kimbrough joined Pesquet on the spacewalk, and the duo finished all primary objectives in half the allotted time before knocking out the entire list of optional "get-ahead" tasks.
The goal of the spacewalk was to complete the installation of new lithium-ion batteries and accompanying adapter plates. This was needed to wrap up a major power upgrade that began in December, when the new batteries arrived on the Japanese HTV-6 cargo spacecraft. [Spacewalk Photos: International Space Station Gets a Power Upgrade]
Both Kimbrough and Pesquet carried cameras during the spacewalk to photograph parts of the space station for ground controllers, who will use the pictures for future reference and planning upcoming EVAs (extravehicular activities).
Pesquet took also took the opportunity to snap his first-ever spacewalk selfie. Planet Earth and Pesquet's camera-wielding hand are seen in the reflection of the astronaut's gold-tinted sun visor. The camera is strapped to the hand of Pesquet's Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU), or spacesuit, to keep it from floating off and getting lost in space.
In another spacewalk photo, Pesquet points the camera down at his feet and to the Earth below — 250 miles (400 kilometers) below, that is. "This is what a spacewalk is: 400 km of void under your feet," Pesquet tweeted along with the photo. To the right of his dangling legs is what appears to be either a Russian Soyuz or Progress spacecraft currently docked at the space station.
When Pesquet isn't spacewalking outside the ISS, he still takes plenty of photos of Earth from inside the orbiting lab. Check out more of Pesquet's amazing photos from space in this Space.com gallery.
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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.