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British Astronaut Tim Peake Is About To Do His First Spacewalk

Good luck out there, Tim.

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Tim Peake, a British astronaut currently on board the International Space Station (ISS), is about to do his first spacewalk.

ESA/BuzzFeed

It's scheduled for 12.55pm on Friday 15 January and will last for about six hours. He'll be floating out with the other Tim currently on board the ISS – NASA astronaut Tim Kopra.

The European Space Agency (ESA) will be streaming the spacewalk live.

The astronauts' task during the spacewalk will be to replace a broken part on the outside of the station.

NASA / Via blogs.esa.int

The "solar shunt unit" transfers power generated by the space station's solar panels. There are eight units in total, but the station has been operating with just seven since November.

Once that's done, they'll lay cables and replace a valve that was removed last year during remodelling.

Reid Wiseman, a NASA astronaut, had a similar task during his 2014 spacewalk so he'll talk them through it from mission control in Houston, USA, according to ESA.

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Earlier this week, Peake posted this photo to Instagram of him trying on the suit he'll wear for the spacewalk.

Instagram: @astro_timpeake

Try to memorise this if you want to be able to work out which one he is while he's outside the ISS.

Leaving the ISS requires a lot of preparation. Peake will spend two hours before his spacewalk breathing pure oxygen to purge himself of nitrogen.

ESA/NASA / esa.int

Without this preparation, the drop in pressure could give astronauts the bends, like scuba divers who come up to the surface too quickly. That's because spacesuits are less pressurised than the space station, to allow astronauts to move around more easily.

Kopra (pictured above, before his spacewalk in December) and Peake will be helped into their spacesuits by commander Scott Kelly and cosmonaut Sergei Volkov. Then the spacewalking astronauts will head into the airlock. Kelly and Volkov will help them from inside the station.

Astronauts use tethers to keep themselves and their tools attached to the ISS on spacewalks.

They also have an emergency jetpack called SAFER (Simplified Aid for EVA Rescue) they can use if they become untethered and start to float away.

Peake practised how to use the emergency jetpack using virtual reality.

Watch @astro_timpeake use a VR jet pack to deal with an astronaut's nightmare- becoming detached during a spacewalk! https://t.co/KX3ZUm8ZAe

Peake's astronaut training also included doing spacewalks UNDER WATER.

ESA - H. Rueb, 2010 / esa.int

This is Peake in 2010 at ESA's Neutral Buoyancy Facility in Cologne, Germany, where he learnt basic spacewalking skills. According to NASA, "floating in space is a lot like floating in water".

Kelly Oakes is science editor for BuzzFeed and is based in London.

Contact Kelly Oakes at kelly.oakes@buzzfeed.com.

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