BREAKING NEWS: British astronaut Tim Peake begins historic spacewalk on International Space Station to repair faulty power unit 249 miles above Earth - but he only has half an hour to do it
- Tim Peake and Tim Kopra embarked on their spacewalk before 1pm GMT, which will be streamed live by Esa
- The pair are tasked with fixing a power unit on the furthest point of the ISS, 200 feet (61 metres) from the airlock
- Are completing repair in darkness to avoid sparks from solar panel and go on to perform more maintenance tasks
- Major Peake has made history as the first Briton to conduct a spacewalk and said he is 'exhilarated'
Tim Peake has taken his first 'steps' outside the International Space Station (ISS), becoming the first official British astronaut to perform a spacewalk.
The 43-year-old followed experienced spacewalker Tim Kopra, who is leading the task to repair a faulty power unit.
Major Peake has now joined Flight Engineer Kopra at the far-end of the ISS where they will begin their maintenance task in approximately 14.40GMT.
He suffered a minor delay after a piece of his tether snagged on a truss on the outside of the space station.
The astronauts face a race against the clock to conduct the repair in brief moments of darkness as the space station hurtles around the Earth.
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Major Peake has now joined Flight Engineer Kopra at the far-end of the International Space Station. This photograph shows him laying out his tools and preparing to repair a faulty power unit in a round 45 minutes time
Tim Peake (pictured) has taken his first 'steps' outside the International Space Station (ISS) to become the first official British astronaut to perform a spacewalk. Because the spacewalk is taking place in the dark it id difficult to distinguish the astronauts from one another
Major Peake and Tim Kopra have reached the repair site with the SUU and are arranging their tools so they can begin the repair work when the ISS passes into the Earth's shadow
Major Peake (pictured during the 'translation' or space walk) has now joined Flight Engineer Kopra at the far-end of the ISS where they will begin their maintenance task in approximately 45 minutes
This image shows Tim Peake about to take his first 'steps' outside the International Space Station (ISS) to become the first official British astronaut to perform a spacewalk. He can be seen here about to leave the air lock
Major Peake, 43, emerged in to the vacuum of space in darkness as the space station moved into the shadow of the Earth. The two astronauts were just illuminated by the light from the space station and their helmet.
Shortly before Major Peake left the airlock, Commander Scott Kelly, who remained on board the space station, said: ‘It is really cool to see Union Jack to go outside. It has explored all over the world and now it is exploring space.’
Major Peake responded: ‘It is great to be wearing it. It is a privilege. A proud moment.'
Major Peake and Flight Engineer Kopra began their preparations more than an hour ago by 'prebreathing' which means inhaling pure oxygen, to purge their bodies of nitrogen.
The process stops astronauts getting a serious condition known as decompression sickness or 'the bends' when they leave the high pressure environment inside the ISS - which is similar to the Earth - to the lower pressure spacesuit.
The astronauts face a race against the clock to conduct the repair in brief moments of darkness as the space station hurtles around the Earth. This is the moment Major Peake left the ISS, filmed from outside the ISS (left) and inside (right) by Scott Kelly
Major Peake, 43, emerged in to the vacuum of space in darkness (pictured) as the space station moved into the shadow of the Earth. The two astronauts were just illuminated by the light from the space station and their helmet
Flight engineer Kopra left the safety of the ISS first (pictured), with Major Peake about to leave the airlock. At this point, the ISS was still bathed in sunlight
Tim Peake said he was 'exhilarated' before his spacewalk. This image shows Kopra making his way along the side of the ISS, to which he is tethered. Major Peake's personal camera was activated later in the walk
Shortly before Major Peake left the airlock, Commander Scott Kelly, who remained on board the space station, said: ‘It is really cool to see union jack to go outside. It has explored all over the world and now it is going out into space. Tim Kopra is shown above
The pair placed their suits on 'internal battery power' in the vacuum, meaning the 192nd spacewalk officially begun for 6.48am CET
This image shows Flight Engineer Kopra making his way to the site of the repair, which is at the furthest point from the air lock
The suit has to be operated at low pressure to prevent large pressure differences between inside the spacesuit and the vacuum of space.
By reducing the pressure differences between inside and outside of the spacesuit, it doesn't need to be super heavy and cumbersome and it's easier for astronauts to move their arms and legs in the spacesuit.
The astronauts were then bundled into the 'crew lock' where the air is removed until it becomes almost a vacuum.
The process is a gradual one and while it goes on, the astronauts can check their communications systems and conduct checks on the suits.
Speaking to the duo inside the air lock, veteran astronaut Scott Kelly, who has spent almost a year aboard the ISS, said: 'Good luck, you'll do great'.
Major Peake and flight engineer Kopra began their preparations by 'prebreathing' which means inhaling pure oxygen, to purge their bodies of nitrogen. Here the two have their suits on and are arranging their tools while waiting to enter the 'crew lock'
The astronauts have been locked inside the 'crew lock' which is a depressurisation chamber. The moment they place their suits on 'internal battery power' in the vacuum, the spacewalk will have officially begun
Tim Peake will conduct Britain's first spacewalk to repair a faulty power unit, known as a Sequential Shunt Unit. He will have to pull himself along the outside of the space station carrying a spare and with the help of his colleague Nasa astronaut Tim Kopra, will replace the faulty unit with the new one (illustrated)
The pair placed their suits on 'internal battery power' in the vacuum, meaning the 192nd spacewalk officially begun for 6.48am CET.
Major Peake emerged from the ISS carrying a bag full of cables with him as he ventured outside the ISS.
As Kopra made his way along the hand rails outside the space station, Peake waited with the replacement SSU near the airlock.
He said: ‘I’m just chilling out.’
Major Peake has previously said despite all his training, 'nothing can fully prepare for the feeling of being outside a spacecraft'.
Writing on Twitter from orbit on Thursday night, the European Space Agency astronaut said: 'Popping outside for a walk tomorrow. Exhilarated - but no time to dwell on emotions.'
Major Peake and Flight Engineer Kopra will have just 31 minute windows to install a new sequential shunt unit in total darkness outside the ISS.
They must conduct the repair while the ISS is on the dark side of the Earth so they are not harmed by sparks that could fly from the space station's solar arrays if they are producing power from sunlight.
British astronaut Tim Peake has put on his spacesuit ahead of his historic spacewalk outside the International Space Station. He can be seen in the foreground, with US astronaut Scott Kelly ready to fit the jet pack, used in emergencies, onto the suit
It's a struggle to sit the emergency jet pack onto Tim Kopra's back in such a confined space and it's possible to see the strain on experiences spacewalker Scott Kelly's face
Writing on Twitter from orbit on Thursday night, the European Space Agency astronaut said: 'Popping outside for a walk tomorrow. Exhilarated - but no time to dwell on emotions'
The depressurisation process is a gradual one and will pause to let the astronauts check their communications systems and conduct checks on the suits. Here the astronauts are bundled into the crew lock
Astronaut Tim Peake (pictured in his space suit) is set to become the first Briton to conduct a spacewalk today. But he and fellow astronaut Tim Kopra will face a race against the clock to repair a power unit
PREPARING FOR A SPACEWALK
While outside the ISS, the astronauts will be hurtling at 17,227mph (27,724km/h) above the surface of the Earth.
It takes 93 minutes for the ISS to orbit Earth once, so astronauts get to experience 16 sunrises and 16 sunsets each day.
Major Peake said the pair had spent the past week preparing their tools and rehearsing the spacewalk, known as Extravehicular Activities (EVAs), from inside the ISS.
He revealed that among the tools they will take outside with them to help install the new power unit is a modified toothbrush to help clean the connections.
Writing on his blog, Major Peake said: 'In true The Martian style we fabricated a makeshift tool out of a toothbrush to clean the pinion thread if necessary.
'In previous EVAs the bolt that keeps the SSU didn't always turn smoothly and Nasa thinks this might be because the thread gets blocked with debris.
'We have used virtual reality headsets to re-enact our operations and trained for the worst case scenario of becoming detached from the Space Station but I guess nothing can fully prepare for the feeling of being outside of a spacecraft in the vacuum of space.
'Although I am exhilarated by tomorrow's spacewalk I have no time to dwell on these emotions.'
The pair (pictured above) have just 31 minutes to install a new sequential shunt unit (SSU) under the cover of darkness to ensure they are not harmed by sparks that could fly from the ISS' solar arrays
The site they are trying to reach is 'about as far along the space station that you can go from the airlock', or around 200 feet (61 metres). The large circle shows the site of the SSU and the smaller one, the airlock
Major Peake and Flight Engineer Kopra are expected to spend six and a half hours outside the space station during the EVA.
The repair of the power unit is expected to only take around 15 minutes if all goes smoothly, however, and they will spend the rest of the time laying new power cables and doing other work outside the ISS.
They are due to begin the spacewalk at 12.55pm GMT (7.55EST) and it will be broadcast live by Nasa.
Major Peake will exit the airlock and pull himself along rails fixed on the outside of the space station carrying a replacement SSU unit, which measures two and a half feet long, one foot wide and one and a half feet deep (70 x 30 x 46cm) weighing around 200 lbs (91 kg).
The site the duo are trying to reach is 'about as far along the space station that you can go from the airlock', or around 200 feet (61 metres).
Tim Peake has said he's looking forward to the spacewalk views and has snapped many views of Earth. This is on he's shared on Twitter
However, astronauts have previously had difficulty installing SSU equipment, so this time the crew have made 'contingency tools' in a bid to get the job done quickly. 'One of them is called the toothbrush tool,' Dum said. He is pictured above with the simple-looking device
Tim Peake, 43 (pictured), has been on board the ISS for just over one month after blasting off from Kazakhstan in a Soyuz rocket and is said to have 'adapted very well'
HOW IS TIM PEAKE FEELING?
Major Peake said: 'The six hours and thirty minutes we will work on the Space Station's hull are meticulously planned and Tim and I need to execute each step methodically.
'Our tools and spacesuits are ready, with all of our tools either clipped onto our spacesuit’s ‘Mini Work-Station’ or stowed inside tool bags in the order we need them.
'I can hear my trainers at the European Astronaut Centre and their constant drilling in my ears: "you stop, you drop" meaning that as soon as you stop moving from A to B you "drop" a tether - a short strap securing you to the nearest handrail.
'In space, if it isn't fixed down it will float away, and that includes ourselves.
'As we move to the furthest edge of the Space Station we will be attached to an anchor point by a thin steel wire on a reel, called a Safety Tether.
'These thin steel wires are a double-edged sword however as we must remain vigilant to not get them tangled up.'
The British astronaut, 43, has been on board the ISS for just over one month after blasting off from Kazakhstan in a Soyuz rocket and is said to have 'adapted very well'.
He is the second British citizen to travel into space after Helen Sharman travelled to the Russian Mir Space Station in 1991.
Although there have been other British born astronauts, they have all had to become US citizens in order to fly into space.
Michael Foale was the first person to be born in Britain to perform a spacewalk in 1995 when he climbed outside the space shuttle Discovery.
Piers Sellers, another Nasa astronaut who was the second British born person to perform a spacewalk, told the Guardian looking down on Earth during an EVA was like 'God's eye view'.
Astronaut Scott Kelly, who is nearing the end of his year-long stay on the ISS tweeted about the spacewalk, including a beautiful shot of the Earth below. He said the 'UK will have a new star out there'
Major Peake will conduct the first spacewalk of 2016. Last month he helped to support two Nasa astronauts last month as they performed an emergency spacewalk to unjam a railcar on the outside of the space station (pictured). He helped them put on their spacesuits and provided vital contact from inside the space station
DO ASTRONAUTS GET HUNGRY?
He said: 'For most astronauts, EVA is the holy grail, the thing you most want to do at some point in your career.
'If you look straight ahead through your visor, you can't see the edges of your helmet, and it's like you are hanging there 220 miles above the Earth, moving at five miles per second seeing over a thousand miles in every direction.'
Major Peake himself has spoken himself about looking forward to enjoying the view outside the space station.
At a press conference held shortly after arriving at the space station, he said: 'When I went to the Cupola [an observatory module in the ISS] yesterday, I watched a sunset and a sunrise at different times. It was incredible,' he explained.
'To be out there on a spacewalk when that actually happens will be the most spectacular thing ever.'
But Major Peake is unlikely to get much time to enjoy the view.
Writing on his blog: 'As soon as we exit the airlock we will keep check on each other.
'The helmet in our EMU suits does not move, so I rely on Tim to check nothing is caught or snagging, as Tim relies on me to check his back.
'Spacewalks, like many critical operations, operate on the buddy-buddy system.
'Tim and I will constantly be checking each other and relying on each other for assistance if something should go wrong.
'So having completed all of our training and preparations – it’s finally time to go for a walk. See you on the other side of the airlock, we have already packed our toothbrush!'
The spacewalk will happen in darkness so the astronauts won't be at risk from sparking when the ISS' solar panels. This image of darkness and a distant sunrise was taken by Major Peake from within the safety of the ISS
Major Peake has taken a lead role in the preparation for the repair mission by testing and preparing a spare sequential shunt unit (SSU) that will replace a faulty one.
SSUs are responsible for receiving power from the solar arrays and regulating the voltage on the space lab, 249 miles (400km) above Earth.
On December 23 he connected power and data cables to the spare SSU before putting power through the unit to confirm it was in working order.
On Christmas Eve he conducted further preparations before stowing the spare unit safely ahead of the walk.
There is much at stake because there is only one spare SSU aboard the ISS – with just one more remaining on Earth.
The task to repair one of the ISS' eight power channels will be done against the clock, because it has to happen during the night.
Paul Dum, lead spacewalk officer, Nasa, explained: 'One of the key challenges of replacing the SSU is that it has to happen at night because we need to protect the crew from the power that would come from the array.
'So this time pressure means it's critical that the crew is ready to step into contingency procedures quickly if necessary. The crew has practiced hard and are ready to go.'
Flight Engineer Kopra will make the journey to the repair site first, connecting the safety tethers to the ISS to stop them floating away and then install a foot restraint and stow tools in an accessible place to make the job easier.
Major Peake will join him as the duo are plunged into darkness at the repair site. They will work by torchlight to install the new SSU and bolt it onto the ISS.
It's thought Major Peake's wife, Rebecca will watch the spacewalk outside of the UK, possibly at Nasa in Houston, Texas. She shared a sweet Tweet (above) showing the concern of one of Major Peake's sons for the astronaut
After a stuck brake handle stalled a railcar outside of the ISS, two astronauts set out on a 'spacewalk,'before Christmas to repair the car in time for an upcoming docking. In under an hour, Nasa's Commander Scott Kelly and flight engineer Timothy Kopra were able to release the brake handles by hitting it twice
WHAT DOES A SPACEWALK FEEL LIKE?
Royce Renfrew, ISS spacewalk flight director, suggested the spacewalk should not be dangerous as long as the work is completed in darkness.
'Solar arrays generate electricity out of sunlight. When it's not in sunlight it's not generating any electricity.
'…we don't know what caused it [the SSU] to fail it could have a short inside it.
'So what we don't want to do is remove it with a potential short that could cause arcing and sparking as it comes off.'
Arcing is the electrical breakdown of a gas that produces an ongoing plasma discharge.
He continued: 'So we do it during the night pass when we can guarantee there's absolutely no power flowing through there because there's no sun to generate any electricity.'
Dum said: 'It's as simple as turning a bolt to install the SSU.'
The job is predicted to take around 15 minutes if everything goes to plan, giving them plenty of time to move away from the area before the solar panels begin generating electricity again, which could put their lives at risk.
If there are problems, the crew will 'slow down and stop using a power tool and start using a ratchet wrench so see whether they can get a better feel to see if the bond is working,' Mr Dum said, adding that they could use the 'toothbrush'.
Mr Refrew said the night passes are 31 minutes long, so work has to be completed in this window.
'In reality, if we don't get the SSU done in the first eclipse pass, we'll fall back onto the second eclipse pass then the third one to get it done, and the rest of the stuff will fall off the timeline,' he said.
Chris Hadfield, who famously sung David Bowie's 'Space Oddity' on the ISS, tweeted Major Peake: 'See the world for us, Tim' (above)
Preparations will begin this morning at 6.30am. It will be Tim Kopra's third spacewalk and Tim Peake's first. He is seen here inside the ISS
A handout photograph made available by Nasa showing Expedition 46 Flight Engineer Tim Kopra on the spacewalk. Astronauts had to guide the stalled rail car just four inches back into place after releasing the brake handle, and then latch it back to its rightful spo
The astronauts will have to tether the SSU to the ISS if daylight is fast approaching, but it will be important is not too close to the ISS, other electrics or sparks may fly.
Once the job is complete, Major Peake will carry the broken SSU back to the airlock and the duo will go on to do more maintenance work if there is time, including installing a vent in a tight space on the other side of the ISS.
The spacewalkers could lay cables in advance of new docking ports and reinstall a valve that was removed for the relocation of the Leonardo module last year.
Luca Parmitano, an ESA astronaut who spent 166 days aboard the ISS in 2013 as part of the Voloare mission and completed two spacewalks, told MailOnline Major Peake will be feeling 'excited' ahead of his spacewalk, 'because for any man who becomes an astronaut an EVA is the ultimate goal. It's such a privilege.'
He also said the astronaught will be feeling the burden of responsibility to fix the SSU.
'He's had a lot of training - he feels he's ready from a knowledge point of view - but he's wondering how he'll feel and react, Flight engineer Parmitano suggested.
He added: 'Space is the most amazing adventure. I'm so happy the UK is concentrating on Tim's mission - he's awesome.'
Earlier this week, Major Peake tweeted some photos of his final suit check before the spacewalk (shown above). He is seen smiling inside the helmet and said the suit 'feels just great
CHILDRENS' TV STAR MISS MOUSE JOINS MAJOR PEAKE AT SPACE STATION
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Astronaut Tim Peake (pictured in his space suit) is set to become the first Briton to conduct a spacewalk today. But he and fellow astronaut Tim Kopra will face a race against the clock to repair a power unit