NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Andrew Morgan are setting out today to perform the installation of a new International Docking Adapter (IDA) on the International Space Station that will provide another way for future crew craft flown by commercial providers to bring astronauts to the orbital research platform.
This is the second IDA to be installed in the ISS, and the actual spacewalk itself is set to happen at 8:20 AM ET, with astronauts spending the time until then getting all suited up. This docking adapter came up on SpaceX’s CRS-18 resupply mission, which went up in July. The adapter will provide automated docking procedures for a number of future crew spacecraft, including Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and the SpaceXCrew Dragon, and it’s a standard that’s intended to be used with any other commercial craft to be developed with the aim of reaching the ISS in future, too.
The two IDAs and their use are a big part of NASA’s plan to commercialize the ISS and essentially open the platform for business, with the aim of gaining private sector support for both its use and the development of an eventual successor, since the existing ISS is actually quite a bit past its intended mission lifespan.