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Watch these NASA animations previewing its upcoming spacewalks

Since astronauts started building the International Space Station (ISS) in 1998, there have been more than 230 spacewalks at the orbiting outpost, the majority of them carried out in U.S. spacesuits.

Two more walks are fast approaching — on January 27 and February 1 — and NASA has released animations of both to offer space fans a preview of the work that’s set to be carried out. Both walks will be streamed live online, and we’ll be posting details soon on how you can watch them in real time.

The walks, officially known as  “extravehicular activities,” will be conducted by NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins and Victor Glover, who arrived at the space station aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule in November 2020. The next spacewalk will be Hopkins’ third after completing two during a stay at the ISS in 2013. Glover is on his first trip to space, so the 44-year-old astronaut is gearing up for yet another special experience during his debut mission.

Each walk will likely last between five and eight hours as the pair work on ISS assembly, maintenance, and upgrades.

Specifically, the January 27 spacewalk “will focus on completing cable and antenna rigging for the ‘Bartolomeo’ science payloads platform outside the European Space Agency Columbus module,” NASA said. “The duo also will configure a Ka-band terminal that will enable an independent, high-bandwidth communication link to European ground stations. After completing the upgrades on the Columbus module, Hopkins and Glover will remove a grapple fixture bracket on the far port (left) truss in preparation for future power system upgrades.” The work is previewed in the animation below.

Expedition 64 - US Spacewalk 69 Animation - January 21, 2021

The second outing on February 1 will include the installation of a final lithium-ion battery adapter plate that will complete battery replacement work that started four years ago to help improve the station’s power system.

Hopkins and Glover will also replace an external camera on the starboard truss, fix a new high-definition camera to the Destiny laboratory, and swap out components for the Japanese robotic arm’s camera system outside the Kibo module. Another animation below previews the upcoming tasks.

Expedition 64 - US Spacewalk 70 Animation - January 21, 2021

As you might imagine, spacewalks can produce some pretty incredible images as astronauts enjoy an unobstructed view of Earth and space. Check out this collection of 30 stunning spacewalk photos taken in the years since Ed White stepped out of his Gemini 4 capsule to become America’s first-ever spacewalker in 1965.

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