Astronauts Conducted Two Successful Spacewalks And January Isn't Even Over Yet

And tells us how they use the bathroom while out there.

Less than two weeks into 2017 and humans have already conducted two successful spacewalks. 

On Jan. 13, current International Space Station (ISS) Commander Shane Kimbrough from NASA and the European Space Agency's Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet "walked" in space for nearly six hours to install new equipment on the ISS. It took two spacewalks to set up three new adapter plates and attach electrical connections for six new lithium-ion batteries on the ISS, NASA reported.


Kimbrough, Pesquet, and the ISS posted photos and videos from the spacewalk on Twitter, lighting up social media with a reminder of our existence and pursuit for meaning in this imperceptibly large cosmos. It is especially timely, particularly in a national climate that seems to be narrowing the scope of our focus.

The two astronauts also posted bird's-eye views of their hometowns in Atlanta, Georgia, and Dieppe in Northern France respectively. 

And in case you were wondering, yes, a spacewalk basically means you're "walking" on clouds. 

NASA astronauts also seized the opportunity to reveal some trade secrets.

Space exploration has not been as pressing a priority to the federal government as it was when the Cold War served as impetus for the Space Race in 1960. President John F. Kennedy pushed hard to land Americans on the moon, highlighting the connection between science and government. "The ocean, the atmosphere, outer space, belong not to one nation or one ideology, but to all mankind, and as science carries out its tasks in the years ahead, it must enlist all its own disciplines, all nations prepared for the scientific quest, and all men capable of sympathizing with the scientific impulse," Kennedy said. 

The practical benefits of space exploration aside, being out there has a profound effect on how humans perceive our planet and its inhabitants. In the short film "Overview" by Planetary Collective,  former astronauts said that being able to look back on Earth was an unexpected, but perhaps most important aspect of space exploration. Many described feeling an acute connection to Earth and how it shifted their perspective on humanity. 

"The beauty of seeing Earth as a planet, as opposed to being down here among it, is a wonderful experience," said Edgar Mitchell, an Apollo 14 astronaut. "I'm sure we all interpret it somewhat differently; I know some of the fellas go right to a religious explanation. I didn't, I went to a more science-y explanation. And I think all that's wonderful. That's what it takes to build a civilization."


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