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USA astronauts prepare station for commercial space taxis


Spacewalking astronauts installed a new door for visitors at International Space Station on Friday

NASA’s investments in the private cargo and crew transport programs made SpaceX possible, setting the stage for a new commercial race to space.

Two American astronauts, Jeff Williams and Kate Rubins, will exit the International Space Station on Friday to install a specialized parking spot for the new generation of private spaceships expected to visit the station in years to come.

For more than two hours, the two astronauts attempted to tie down the docking adaptor, which had been built by Boeing, and successfully attached it.

The two Americans aboard the International Space Station, Jeffrey Williams and Kate Rubins, ventured out Friday morning. On Thursday, NASA revealed plans to sell the International Space Station to a commercial operator by the mid-2020s, ZD Net reports.

The U.S. efforts to create a marketplace in space are beginning, and they could turn space into another place to go to work or to go to school. The IDA, built to the International Docking System Standard, measures 2.4 meters in diameter and will allow automatic docking with the ISS for larger crews. “The influx of commercial launches to the ISS would reduce NASA’s involvement in the project”. Before it all began, the ground robotics team used the robotic arm of the space station to position the IDA in front of the Pressurized Mating Adapter-2 (PMA-2). For the program, private companies SpaceX and Boeing are developing spacecraft for NASA that can ferry astronauts back and forth from the ISS.

With SpaceX and Boeing shouldering the load for delivering astronauts to orbit, it frees up NASA for grander things.

Nasa also requested ideas on operating models, contract structures and other sustainable business plans for future commercial endeavours 400km above the planet. The upcoming of this commercial space taxis mean that the USA does not need to rely on Russian Federation to take personnel to the ISS anymore. This was the fourth spacewalk for Williams, and the first for Rubins.

This is actually NASA’s second newfangled docking ring.

The astronauts spent more than two hours tying down the adaptor, after which robotic machinery at the space station completed the hard mate, making the attachment permanent. Williams will conduct one more spacewalk with Rubins on September 1 to retract a radiator. Although a “stubborn” cable connector seemed to have proven hard for Rubins to handle, Williams was able to move around the side of the IDA to lend a hand of assistance to her. Up there for five months, Williams and two of the Russians will return to Earth in a couple weeks.

SpaceX’s crew Dragon ship will fly on the company’s own Falcon rocket from a former shuttle launch pad at Kennedy Space Center and, at mission’s end, splash down off the Florida coast.

But there could be other possibilities that NASA hasn’t even considered, the agency says.