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NASA astronauts install new ISS dock port

AAP logoAAP 20/08/2016

Two NASA astronauts have installed the first of two new docking ports for commercial space ships at the International Space Station (ISS).

During a spacewalk of five hours and 58 minutes, astronauts Jeff Williams, commander of the 48th expedition, and flight engineer Kate Rubins fixed the first two points of the International Docking Adapter (IDA).

The IDAs will be used for future arrivals of manned commercial aircraft from Boeing and SpaceX, developed under the NASA manned commercial program, the agency said in a statement.

The installation will give NASA independent access to the ISS for the first time since the withdrawal of its fleet of space shuttles in 2011.

So far, NASA depends on the Russian Soyuz vessels.

Jeff Williams said in a statement that the IDAs open a new chapter in the history of the ISS enabling the access for future commercial vehicles.

The new docking mechanism was transported in June to the ISS aboard a Dragon capsule by California-based private firm SpaceX, after the first IDA was lost during the launch failure of a SpaceX flight in June 2015.

According to NASA, commercial flights from Florida to the ISS will increase the time for US crews to devote to scientific research and help prepare astronauts for deeper space missions, including possible travel to Mars.

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