‘Private parking space’ installed on International Space Station

Astronauts complete six-hour spacewalk to attach the new docking system 

Saturday 20 August 2016 13:14
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Kate Rubins (L) and Jeff Williams (R) preparing to grapple the SpaceX Dragon supply spacecraft from aboard the ISS
Kate Rubins (L) and Jeff Williams (R) preparing to grapple the SpaceX Dragon supply spacecraft from aboard the ISS

Two astronauts have successfully installed a new “parking spot” on the International Space Station (ISS) for use by private spaceships and other craft.

Jeff Williams and Kate Rubins completed a six-hour spacewalk to attach the first of two docking adaptors.

It took the astronauts more than two hours to tie down the docking adaptor, which was built by Boeing.

The “parking spot” will be used by commercial spaceships as the ISS expects more traffic in the coming years.

After the work was finished, Nasa's Mission Control commentator Rob Navias said: “We have a new port of call for the new US commercial crew vehicles.

Nasa has described the new docking station as “a metaphorical gateway to a future”.

It is more sophisticated than any previous docking stations and allows for automatic parking, as opposed to the current system of grapple and berthing which is managed by astronauts.

The new system will work with Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon, with the first flights expected as early as next year.

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