Tim Peake has become the first official British astronaut to perform a spacewalk as he took his first steps out into open space. The ESA astronaut has just started an epic six-hour repair mission that'll see him join NASA astronaut Tim Kopra.
Peake, having watched Kopra leave the airlock made some final checks before making his historic first step out into space.
— HuffPostUKTech (@HuffPostUKTech) January 15, 2016
Station Commander Scott Kelly commented on the significance of the situation: "It's really cool seeing that Union Jack going outside. It's explored all over the world, now it's explored space"
Major Peake replied "It's great to be wearing it. A privilege, a proud moment." as he made his first steps onto the outer hull of the space station.
As the pair made their way to the tip of the solar panel astronaut on the ground Reid Wisemen point out that it was "nice to see them both on the tip of the world." before the sun would inevitably set ahead of the repair mission.
The team had spent nearly three hours preparing for this moment, having spent an hour pre-breathing pure oxygen before they could put the suits on and a further hour performing checks in the airlock before they could open the outer hatch.
The pair will be working on a failed solar shunt unit which needs replacing. The International Space Station has eight of these large devices which help provide power from the huge solar panels however since last October, only seven have been in operation.
The mission will see the astronauts move from the external airlock to a preliminary staging point where they'll recover the tools and equipment needed to carry out the task safely.
From there they'll move to the base of one the ISS's massive solar panels at a distance of around 200ft and begin work on replacing the failed shunt.
The mission will need to be carried out in relative darkness due to the dangers of working so close to the giant solar panels so it's expected for the mission to take a fairly lengthy six hours.
Before taking his first steps Major Peake will have spent two hours 'pre-breathing' during which he'll purge his body of any excess nitrogen by breathing pure oxygen.
This will prepare the ESA astronaut for the low-pressure environment of the space suit itself and will in turn prevent him from suffering decompression sickness otherwise known as 'the bends'.
— Massimo (@Rainmaker1973) January 15, 2016
Speaking about the mission Major Peake said: “I am thrilled at this opportunity for a spacewalk. Right now we are focusing on preparing the tools, equipment and procedures.
“Maintaining the International Space Station from the outside requires intense operations - not just from the crew, but also from our ground support teams who are striving to make this spacewalk as safe and efficient as possible.”
Lightning in a 2-second exposure as we flew over South Africa. Every day I see new and amazing things up here! pic.twitter.com/OgykRueXVb
— Tim Peake (@astro_timpeake) January 14, 2016
If all goes to plan Peake and Kopra are expected to return to the Space Station at around 19:00 GMT.
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