The first of two International Docking Adapters (designated IDA-2 since IDA-1 was lost in the one and only Falcon 9 launch mishap to date) has, by now, been extracted from the trunk of the CRS-9 Dragon spacecraft and should be hovering about three feet away from the Pressurized Mating Adapter 2 (PMA-2) on the forward end of the ISS, secure in the grip of the SSRMS. It will stay there until Friday, when astronauts Jeff Williams and Kate Rubins will exit the Quest airlock and work to get the adapter properly installed. NASA has released this wonderful informative CGI video outlining the plan for Friday’s spacewalk.
If you want to watch it live, tune in to NASA TV (via cable, satellite, YouTube, the NASA TV website, or wherever else you can find a feed) on Friday. Live coverage starts at 6:30 AM EDT (10:30 UTC), and the actual spacewalk is scheduled to begin at 8:05 AM EDT.
Two big events just started toward the Commercial Crew effort. First, aboard the ISS, crewmembers completed the first of three spacewalks in preparation for the upcoming International Docking Adapters that will be attached to the two Pressurized Mating Adapters attached to the Harmony node of the ISS to allow docking by Dragon and CST-100. Like the PMAs, both adapters are furnished by Boeing, and they will be available at the forward and zenith ports, allowing for up to two commercial crew vehicles at a time while not obstructing the ports required for the commercial cargo vehicles.
Yesterday’s work was mostly rewiring, and took six hours and 41 minutes. This was the 29th US spacewalk from the ISS. Here’s a planning animation with detailed explanation followed by a time-lapse of the whole thing:
And Friday, back on Earth, ground was broken for the new crew access structure at LC-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Station. LC-41 serves the Atlas V rocket, and this will support the CST-100 spacecraft.
SpaceX is also making preparations, although as a private company they are playing their cards a little more closely to their chests. We know, however, that they are getting very close to their flyback booster concept, and have made arrangements for a set of landing pads at Cape Canaveral.
Commercial Crew will not likely fly before 2017, but that’s getting closer every day. 😉