Jan. 15 (UPI) — NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir completed the first spacewalk of 2020 on Wednesday, spending more than six hours conducting battery repair work on the International Space Station’s Port-6 truss.

Koch and Meir became the first two women to complete a spacewalk together in October. During the historic spacewalk, the two astronauts replaced a broken power controller, also known as a battery charge-discharge unit, or BCDU.

On Wednesday, the duo ventured outside ISS for a second time, this time to replace batteries that store and distribute the power produced by the space station’s solar panels.

The first spacewalk of the new year, which concluded at 2:19 p.m. EST when the Quest airlock on the ISS was repressurized, was broadcast live by NASA TV and livestreamed on YouTube.

“Meir is designated extravehicular crew member 1 (EV 1), wearing the suit with red stripes, and with helmet camera #11,” according to NASA. “Koch is designated extravehicular crew member 2 (EV 2), wearing the suit with no stripes, and her helmet camera is labeled #18.”

NASA confirmed on Twitter that Koch and Meir completed their first spacewalk mission task at 8:35 a.m., successfully removing one of the old nickel-hydrogen batteries. Just more than an hour later, NASA reported that the duo had completed installation work on a new lithium-ion battery.

During the second half of the spacewalk, the pair of astronauts repeated their initial steps, removing a second aging battery and installing a new one. Koch and Meir finished all of the scheduled battery repair work around 12:30 p.m., and then completed a single get-ahead task before cleaning up their work stations and heading back inside ISS.

Wednesday’s spacewalk was the first of two battery replacement missions. The second spacewalk is scheduled for Jan. 20.

A third spacewalk, scheduled for Jan. 25, will feature NASA Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan and Commander Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency. The two astronauts will complete the thermal repair work on the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer that they commenced last year.

On Tuesday, while Koch and Meir prepared for Wednesday’s spacewalk, Morgan and Parmitano worked on several science experiments.

“The astronauts took turns safely burning fabric and acrylic samples to help scientists understand how flames spread in space,” NASA reported. “Results may inform the design of fire safety products and procedures on Earth and in space. The two crew mates also drew their blood samples, spinning them in a centrifuge for later analysis.”



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