Watch 2 astronauts perform 1st spacewalk of 2023 at space station today

Two astronauts will conduct the first spacewalk of 2023 on Friday morning (Jan. 20), and you can watch the action live.

NASA's Nicole Mann and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency are scheduled to step outside the International Space Station (ISS) at 8:15 a.m. EST (1315 GMT) on Friday, kicking off a roughly 6.5-hour-long spacewalk.

Watch it live here at Space.com, courtesy of NASA, or directly via the agency (opens in new tab). Coverage will start at 7 a.m. EST (1200 GMT).

Related: The most memorable spacewalks of all time in pictures

NASA astronaut Josh Cassada during a spacewalk outside the International Space Station. (Image credit: NASA)

Mann and Wakata "will work on the far end of the station's starboard truss structure in their EMUs and install a modification kit enabling the future installation of a roll-out solar array," NASA officials wrote in a blog post on Thursday (opens in new tab) (Jan. 19). (EMU is short for "Extravehicular Mobility Unit," the type of bulky spacesuit each astronaut will wear on Friday's excursion.)

Friday's spacewalk continues ongoing work to install six ISS Roll-Out Solar Arrays (iROSAs), which are designed to augment the orbiting lab's power supply. 

Spacewalking astronauts have installed four of six planned iROSAs to date. When all six are operational, the space station's power output will increase by 20% to 30%, NASA officials have said.

Wakata and Mann came up to the ISS in October on SpaceX's Crew-5 mission, along with NASA's Josh Cassada and Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina. 

The Crew-5 quartet currently shares the ISS with three other spaceflyers — NASA astronaut Frank Rubio and cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin. Rubio, Prokopyev and Petelin arrived in September aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft called MS-22, which leaked away its coolant last month after an apparent micrometeoroid or debris strike.

The MS-22 vehicle now isn't fit to return astronauts to Earth except in case of emergency. So Russia's federal space agency, Roscosmos, plans to launch an uncrewed Soyuz to the orbiting lab next month to bring Rubio, Prokopyev and Petelin home. 

But that return trip won't take place in March, as originally planned; the trio will likely continue living aboard the ISS until September or so, NASA officials have said.

Mike Wall is the author of "Out There (opens in new tab)" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). Follow us @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab)Facebook (opens in new tab) and Instagram (opens in new tab)

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Mike Wall
Senior Space Writer

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with Space.com (opens in new tab) and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.