Space exploration is reaching another milestone, as NASA breaks the Russian monopoly in ferrying astronauts to the ISS. Not with its own spacecraft, mind you. No, it will be fitting the ISS with parts needed to dock private spacecraft.

NASA

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and space station commander Jeff Williams conducted a 6.5 hour spacewalk in order to install the International Docking Adapter (IDA), which will allow private companies like Boeing and SpaceX to dock with the space station.

The IDA is a large metal ring with a 160 cm diameter (63 inches), which was brought to the station by one of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets last month. It will be installed at one end of the Harmony module.

This is not the first time NASA tried to install an IDA. The first try was June 2015, when a Falcon 9 rocket had IDA in its cargo, bound for the ISS. But that rocket crashed.


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