Preparations for the arrival of new space taxis have stalled after Nasa lost important equipment in a rocket explosion in June

Electrical work done to space station ahead of space taxi arrival

American astronauts Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren performed a seven hour spacewalk on Wednesday installing electrical and data cables needed for Nasa’s new private space taxis.

The spacewalk, which started in early afternoon on Wednesday, was a career first for both the flight engineer Lindgren and the current International Space Station (ISS) commander Kelly, who has today broken the US record for the longest stay in space.

The work they performed was part of the necessary overhaul the station has to go through before Nasa can start operating its new crew vehicles, which are currently being developed by Boeing and SpaceX.

The American space agency had hoped to have two new berthing adaptors installed at the orbital outpost by the end of this year, but face heavy delay after the first of the two devices was lost in an explosion of SpaceX’s Falcon rocket in June.

"We haven't been able to do everything we hoped we would," Kenneth Todd, station operations integration manager said last week.

A replacement docking port is now expected to reach the station in early 2016.

Boeing and SpaceX hope to commence test flights of their space capsules in 2017.

Kelly and Lindgren also installed a thermal cover on the space station's $2bn Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer particle detector, a multinational experiment intended to shed light on dark matter, cosmic rays and other high-energy phenomena.

The thermal cover will better protect the instrument against the temperature extremes in space, which scientists hope will prolong its life.

Owned and operated by a partnership of 15 nations, the $100bn space station will celebrate 15 years of continuous operations on Monday.

Orbiting about 400km above the Earth’s surface, the space laboratory is now expected to remain operational until at least 2024.

 

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