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NASA astronauts conduct first spacewalk of 2021

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Astronauts on Wednesday conducted the first spacewalk of 2021 from the International Space Station (ISS).

The event on Wednesday is the first in a pair of spacewalks, the second set for Feb. 1. Both walks are planned to be 6.5 hours, according to NASA.

NASA’s Mike Hopkins and Victor Glover floated out early and headed straight to Columbus, one of the three high-tech labs at the orbiting outpost.

Hopkins and Glover upgraded science and communications gear on the station and completed long-term battery upgrade work.

“That’s a beautiful view,” Hopkins observed as the station soared 260 miles (420 kilometers) above Kazakhstan.

In this image taken from NASA video, NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins works outside the International Space Station’s European lab on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021. (NASA via AP)

In this image taken from NASA video, NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins works outside the International Space Station’s European lab on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021. (NASA via AP)

The first spacewalk focused on completing set-up for the “Bartolomeo” science payload platform, named after Christopher Columbus’ brother. The astronauts also set up a Ka-band terminal to provide independent, high-bandwidth communication links to European ground stations. 

Astronaut Katie Rubins will assist during both spacewalks by operating robotic arms from inside the space station while Hopkins and Glover work outside. 

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The pair of astronauts arrived at the ISS aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience in mid-November.

Hopkins has performed two spacewalks before, but these will be Glover’s first two missions. Both are scheduled to complete further spacewalks in the near future.

A spacewalk is any time an astronaut moves around in space outside of a vehicle. In 2020, astronauts on the ISS completed eight spacewalks for a total of 232 missions since the first ISS spacewalk in 1998.

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NASA-TV will stream both missions starting at 5:30 a.m. on the day of the spacewalk, while the missions themselves will start at 7 a.m.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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