CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- Spacewalking astronauts prepped the International Space Station on Friday for a new parking spot reserved for commercial crew capsules.
The 250-mile-high complex already has one docking port in place for the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Boeing Starliner, which should start carrying up astronauts as early as next year. Friday's spacewalk set the stage for a second docking location. A new docking device will fly up late this year or early next.
NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough disconnected all four cables from an old docking port, using some extra force on one. He looped a spare tether around the balky cable and pulled, and off it came. "Nicely done, Shane," Mission Control radioed.
On Sunday, flight controllers in Houston will move the old port to provide better clearance for the future ships. Then on Thursday, the crew will conduct another spacewalk to secure the unit.
Until the new crew capsules come on line, U.S. astronauts will keep riding Russian rockets to orbit.
As Kimbrough worked on the docking port and replaced a computer-relay box, French astronaut Thomas Pesquet hunted for signs of an ammonia coolant leak in outdoor plumbing. The leak, while still small, has worsened recently, and NASA wants to pinpoint the location.
"No leaks. No flakes whatsoever," he reported.
During their 6