One of the International Space Station’s latest arrivals, Bob Behnken, this week shared with earthlings what he loves most about spacewalks.
The NASA astronaut, who arrived at the space station with Doug Hurley at the end of May on the maiden flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule, is a spacewalk veteran, having done a total of six during two Space Shuttle missions in 2008 and 2010.
With two more fast approaching — on June 26 and July 1 — Behnken was asked during a recent interview with multiple news outlets about what he enjoys most about the walks, known in the trade as an “extravehicular activity.”
“Having done a few spacewalks … I really look forward to the views of Earth when we get a free moment,” Behnken said. “After you’ve done a couple and know what to expect … it’s important to take some mental photographs, some mental images to remember what it was like to be outside so you can share that experience … so I’m really looking forward to taking advantage of some of those views.”
The NASA astronaut noted that this time around there’ll be “a Dragon vehicle pointed on the forward end of the space station instead of a Space Shuttle, and so I’m looking forward to that, something new, that new view that I can capture and share with the world.”
While the stunning view must certainly be savored, the main reason for a spacewalk is to fix something or carry out maintenance on the ISS or a docked spacecraft.
The upcoming spacewalks, conducted by Behnken and fellow American astronaut Chris Cassidy, will continue work on replacing batteries that store and distribute power collected from the station’s solar arrays.
“When the space station is in the sun, it’s collecting energy and it needs to store that for when it’s in the dark and so those batteries, as they’re cycled time and time again, wear down and need to be replaced,” Behnken said.
The other three team members will help Behnken and Cassidy to get suited up, and then Hurley will help support the operation using the station’s robotic arm.
During the interview, Behnken also offered children some words of inspiration on how they can reach their goals.
NASA plans to livestream the spacewalks. Check back soon for information on how to watch.
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