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Altogether, Wilmore and Virts have 233 metres of cable to run outside the space station. They got off to a strong start Saturday, rigging eight power and data lines, or 104 metres. The longest single stretch was 13 metres.
“Broadening my resumé,” Virts said.
NASA is paying Boeing and SpaceX to build the capsules and fly them from Cape Canaveral, which hasn’t seen a manned launch since the shuttle fleet retired in 2011. Instead, Russia is doing all the taxi work — at a steep price.
The first of two docking ports for the Boeing and SpaceX vessels — still under development — is due to arrive in June. Even more spacewalks will be needed to set everything up.
“I worked up a lather on that one,” Wilmore informed Mission Control. After successfully attaching the first four cables, he added, “I’ve got to cool down.”
“We’ve got a lot of work still,” Mission Control said as Saturday’s 6½-hour spacewalk drew to a close. “We want to make sure we look after your health and get you back inside now, so we’re going to claim victory here.”
It was the first spacewalk for Virts, who arrived at the space station in late November. He savoured the moment as he floated out high above the South Pacific. “Pretty cool,” he said.
Spacesuit concerns stalled the work by a day.
NASA wanted to make certain that the suits worn by Wilmore and Virts had reliable fan and pump assemblies. Two other fan-pump units failed aboard the space station in recent months and were returned to Earth earlier this month for analysis. Corrosion was discovered, the result of water intrusion from testing.