NASA Sending First African American to the International Space Station

NASA Sending First African American to the International Space Station

NASA Sending First African American to the International Space Station

Nasa astronaut Jeanette Epps is set to become the first African-American crew member aboard the International Space Station (ISS) when she flies to the orbital post in May next year, the USA space agency said.

During their approximately six-and-a-half hour spacewalk, the pair installed new adapter plates and hooked up electrical connections for three of six new lithium-ion batteries installed on the station's truss, according to the United States space agency NASA. During this trek through the void, the expedition's commander, and Whitson, a veteran astronaut, had the tough task of replacing the space station's obsolete nickel-hydrogen batteries with brand new lithium-ion batteries.

This spacewalk is Whitson's seventh, tying with NASA's Suni Williams for most spacewalks conducted by a female astronaut. Jeanette is 46 years old and from Syracuse, New York.

Whitson's total through seven EVAs over three fights stands at 46 hours and 18 minutes, moving her up to 14th on the list of most experienced spacewalkers. Whitson was selected for astronaut training in April 1996 and undertook her first spaceflight in 2002 as part of the crew of Expedition 5. A data-link cable will connect each adapter plate and battery pair, and the plates will also be used to store some of the old batteries that won't be used anymore. The work on the batteries is scheduled to be completed on January 13 when Kimbrough and French astronaut Thomas Pasquet will venture out of the ISS. Each array has 12 nickel-hydrogen batteries.

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The operation took more than 4 hours.

The new batteries were delivered last month in a cargo capsule sent by the Japanese.

The HTV, loaded with trash, no-longer-needed equipment and the old batteries, is scheduled to depart the station at the end of the month.

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