Look up. Somewhere out there — beyond the high-rises and the clouds and yes, even the airplanes — there are people. To be precise, there are two of them, and they are more than three-and-a-half hours into the first spacewalk of the year.
Astronauts Scott Tingle and Mark Vande Hei are expected to spend more than six hours Tuesday dangling off the side of the International Space Station, where they are installing a new gripper on the station's robotic arm. The mission is the ISS's 206th maintenance spacewalk since it was launched into orbit in 1998.
"This is going to be a lifetime memory for sure," Tingle told Space.com last week. "I'm looking forward to getting out there and fixing up the systems that we'll be working on."
One of the hardest parts of the spacewalk comes when Tingle has to get out of his boot restraint "and I have to go over to my partner's boot restraint, and I have to move him while he's holding a massive piece of equipment from the robotic arm, so there's a lot of mass there," Tingle said. "I think that will be tricky. I'll probably take that slow and be very cautious."
At least there is a payoff for all the trouble, Phys.org reports: "Make us proud out there," fellow Space Station astronaut Joe Acaba told Tingle and Vande Hei from inside. "We'll have hot chow for you when you get back."
Watch the spacewalk live at NASA.