Right now, two astronauts are just about halfway through a six-hour spacewalk.
NASA explains that, "any time an astronaut gets out of a vehicle while in space, it is called a spacewalk." Spacewalks happen so astronauts can conduct experiments outside of the International Space Station (ISS) and make repairs to the station. Today's spacewalk is a repair mission.
Here, you can see the UK's Tim Peake, an ESA astronaut, and NASA's Tim Kopra exiting the ISS:
…to do the maintenance:
…and showcase their flare:
…and take photos with these space cameras:
Watching and listening to the livestream emphasizes the drama of the relatively routine spacewalk (there were seven in 2015)—the feed crackles, and we can sometimes hear the astronauts breath in their space suits, which is a little trippy.
We can also see members of the NASA team talking through the repairs with the astronauts from Earth.
This is a historic spacewalk for Britain, which has never before sent an astronaut on a spacewalk. Peake wrote in anticipation of the experience on Thursday. It sounds terrifying:
Although I am exhilarated by tomorrow’s spacewalk I have no time to dwell on these emotions. The six hours and thirty minutes we will work on the Space Station’s hull are meticulously planned and Tim and I need to execute each step methodically… I can hear my trainers at the European Astronaut Centre and their constant drilling in my ears: "you stop, you drop" meaning that as soon as you stop moving from A to B you 'drop' a tether—a short strap securing you to the nearest handrail. In space, if it isn’t fixed down it will float away, and that includes ourselves.
This spacewalk has already hit a bit of a snag. Peake repaired the damaged voltage unit, but the Earth crew found some slight issues with Kopra's suit. The Guardian explains:
The astronauts are asked now and then for a glove check. One reason is to make sure none of the spanner work or traversing has damaged them. A tear in a glove in the vacuum of space is not a good thing… Kopra has reported a faulty CO2 sensor in his spacesuit. The suit is still fine, but means he is being closely monitored as a precaution.The routine glove check also showed up a small rip in the surface layer of one of Kopra’s gloves, but again, no cause for concern.
There's still more for the Tims to do before they can return to the ISS. Stay safe.
Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.