"The surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean... Recently, we've managed to wade a little way out, and the water seems inviting." - Carl Sagan
ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano, living and working on the International Space Station, will venture out into space on Tuesday afternoon. This will be the first European spacewalk since 2009 and the first ever by an Italian astronaut.
The spacewalk will begin at 12:15 GMT (14:15 CEST) when his partner Chris Cassidy opens the Quest airlock hatch and ventures out into the void. Luca will follow a few minutes later.
“This is one of the prime objectives of [the mission] and it’s really an honour to be able to do this,” Luca told ESA mission controllers last Thursday while preparing for the adventure. “Siamo pronti ragazzi!” – “Guys, we’re ready!”
Before the sortie begins, Luca and Chris will spend several hours preparing their spacesuits and the emergency systems that would enable them to return to the Station in the event of a problem. Once everything is checked, the pair can begin their six-hour excursion.
Their tasks include laying cable routings for the future Russian Nauka laboratory module, installing and replacing communication and heat management systems, and retrieving a camera and experiments for return to Earth.
Their long day will finish around 18:00 GMT (20:00 CEST) when they return inside NASA’s Quest airlock. Their exertions will be followed by a quiet day to allow them to recover and begin preparing for their second spacewalk in mid-July.
Image credit: ESA