NASA this week begins work to reassemble parts of the International Space Station to create parking spots for two commercial space taxis.The Expedition 42 astronauts Barry Wilmore and Terry Virts are preparing the ISS for a pair of international docking adapters (IDAs) that will allow future commercial crew vehicles to dock.The first spacewalk is set to begin Saturday at 7.10 a.m. (EST).
NASA awarded contracts to Boeing and Space Exploration Technologies or SpaceX to develop, test and fly capsules that can taxi astronauts to and from the station, which orbits about 260 miles above Earth. The agency expects to pay its U.S. operators an average $58 million per person for transportation to and from the station.
According to SpaceX, the upgraded Dragon V2 passenger spacecraft should be ready for an unmanned debut test flight to the station in late 2016 and a crewed test flight in early 2017.
Boeing also plans is to dock an unmanned CST-100 test flight to the station in April 2017.