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Space station crew installs new front door

Spacewalker at work
NASA’s Jeff Williams works on the space station’s International Docking Adapter. (Credit: NASA TV)

The International Space Station now has a door that will let crews float in from the commercial space taxis that SpaceX and Boeing are building, thanks to a nearly six-hour spacewalk.

NASA spacewalkers Jeff Williams and Kate Rubins installed the Boeing-built door, known as an International Docking Adapter or IDA, with an assist from the station’s robotic arm. This was the fourth spacewalk for Williams, and the first for Rubins.

The 5-foot-wide IDA was hooked up to one of the ports on the station’s Harmony module – a port that was originally designed for use by the now-retired space shuttle fleet. Analogous to an electrical-plug adapter, the IDA fits over the port to provide a standard interface for SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule, Boeing’s CST-100 Starlifter, and potentially other spacecraft including Russia’s Soyuz capsule.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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