NASA Astronauts Are Taking a Spacewalk Today: Watch It Live!

Two astronauts will venture outside the International Space Station today (March 22) to replace old batteries on the station's solar arrays. This will be the first of three spacewalks scheduled to take place over the next three weeks, and you can watch them all live online!

Today, NASA astronauts Anne McClain and Nick Hague — both first-time spacewalkers — will begin the spacewalk trifecta with a planned 6.5-hour excursion outside the orbiting laboratory. They will exit the Quest airlock at 8:05 a.m. EDT (1200 GMT), and you can watch it live here on NASA's webcast will begin at 6:30 a.m. EDT (1030 GMT).

One week from now, McClain will head out for her second spacewalk together with NASA astronaut Christina Koch. That will be the first all-female spacewalk in history. During these first two spacewalks, astronauts will continue ongoing work to upgrade the space station's power system by replacing old nickel-hydrogen batteries with new and improved lithium-ion batteries. These upgrades began in 2017, when NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Peggy Whitson and European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet swapped out the first set of batteries in a pair of back-to-back spacewalks.

Spacewalk Photos: International Space Station Gets a Power Upgrade

Twelve of the old nickel-hydrogen batteries will be replaced with six larger lithium-ion batteries, each about the size of a miniature refrigerator. Located in the power channels for the space station's solar arrays, these batteries store power generated by the solar panels and help to power the station when it's orbiting on the dark, nighttime side of Earth. Much like the battery in your cellphone, aging batteries on the space station start to hold less charge. 

The current set of batteries has been at the station for nearly 12 years, and the new batteries are expected to last until the end of the space station's lifetime, Kenneth Todd, NASA's space station program manager, said during a briefing on Tuesday (March 19). NASA is currently planning on ending its space station operations in 2024, although members of Congress are fighting to have it extended to 2030. "The new lithium batteries are certified for 10 years, but expected to last around 20 years," NASA spokesperson Kelly Humphries told in an email. 

NASA astronauts Anne McClain, Christina Koch and Nick Hague prepare their EMU (Extravehicular Mobility Unit) suits for a series of spacewalks set to take place on March 22, March 29 and April 8. (Image credit: NASA)

On April 8, the third and final spacewalk in this series will feature an all-male spacewalking team working on something entirely different. Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques, also a first-time spacewalker, will join Hague on a mission to route a redundant power supply to Canadarm2, a 58-foot (18 meters) robotic arm used to grapple visiting spacecraft. To do this, the astronauts will lay out a set of jumper cables in between the Unity module and the Starboard-0 (S0) truss, a segment located "at the midpoint of the station’s backbone," NASA officials said in a statement

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Hanneke Weitering
Contributing expert

Hanneke Weitering is a multimedia journalist in the Pacific Northwest reporting on the future of aviation at and Aviation International News and was previously the Editor for Spaceflight and Astronomy news here at 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 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.