NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Anne McClain swap batteries during a spacewalk. Hague will be designated extravehicular crew member 2 (EV 2), wearing the suit with no stripes.
The lithium-ion batteries store power produced by the space station's solar arrays.
Floating in the station's Quest airlock, the astronauts switched their spacesuits to battery power at 8:01 a.m. EDT, officially kicking off the 214th spacewalk since ISS assembly began in 1998.
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There are more replacements of the 20-year-old station's original batteries to come. McClain and Hague left the ISS around 8AM ET this morning, and NASA will be showing live views of their spacewalk throughout the day. It will be the first only-women spacewalk in history. "Just like your rechargeable batteries at home, eventually over time they're not going to recharge as well, they're not going to hold as much charge when it comes to putting loads on them". Originally, each of the eight power channels had six nickel-hydrogen batteries - equalling 48 batteries in total.
The batteries were transported to the station in September 2018 aboard the Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle.
Friday's spacewalk was the first of three planned excursions to replace batteries and perform other maintenance.
They also installed adapter plates and hooked up electrical connections for three of the six new lithium-ion batteries installed on the station's starboard truss. The work is delicate and demanding, and they have to do it all in zero gravity, making for a very special kind of entertainment.