A new parking spot was successfully installed by two NASA astronauts on August 19. This will serve as an accommodation facility for commercial space taxis arriving at the orbiting lab.
At about 8:04 in the morning, flight engineer Kate Rubins and the commander of Expedition 48, Jeff Williams made their way outside of the space station. Although the spacewalk was scheduled to last for about 6.5 hours but due to a minor communication problem, it made an early end at 2:02 p.m.
The main objective of the spacewalk was to install an international Docking Adapter. In a bid to position the IDA right before the PMA-2, the robotic arm of the space station “Dextre” was used by the ground robotics team to start off the spacewalk.
Williams and Rubins were able to receive the IDA released from the robotic arm about an hour later. The astronauts were assigned with the task of tethering and tightening the IDA into place. Although a “stubborn” cable connector seemed to have proven difficult for Rubins to handle, Williams was able to move around the side of the IDA to lend a hand of assistance to her.
As instructed, the crew had to get another tether attached and tightened because one of the ready-to-latch indicators was somehow toggling on and off. A command for the hooks to close was issued from the inside of the station by Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi soon after the cables and hook sensors were set. So the IDA was permanently affixed to the Pressurized Mating Adapter-2 (PMA-2).
Before now, only Russian vehicles were capable of docking with space station but with this latest development, various space taxis will now be accommodated at the space station including Boeing and SpaceX vehicles.