Britain's Tim Peake cleared for his first spacewalk next week
British astronaut Tim Peake is due to take part in his first spacewalk next week, the European Space Agency (ESA) has confirmed.
Major Peake and his colleague Tim Kopra will exit the International Space Station (ISS) on January 15 to repair a power unit on the outside. The operation is expected to last around six hours.
The pair arrived at the ISS on December 15.
Major Peake wrote on Twitter: "I am thrilled to be assigned a spacewalk in 10 days. Lots of work to do before Tim and I can open the hatch."
The duo's primary task will be to replace a failed solar shunt unit, which transfers electrical power generated by the solar panels.
ESA said the unit is "relatively easy" to replace because it is a simple box that can be removed by undoing one bolt.
Once done, the astronauts will lay cables for new docking ports and reinstall a valve that was removed last year.
Inside the ISS, Nasa colleague Scott Kelly will help the spacewalkers into and out of their suits.
Before the astronauts leave they will breathe pure oxygen for two hours to purge their bodies of nitrogen, ESA said. The spacesuit pressure is lower than in the ISS and the drop could give them decompression sickness.
Donning their spacesuits and safety equipment will take hours before they enter the airlock to reduce the pressure until it is safe to open the exterior hatch.
Major Peake said: "I am thrilled at this opportunity for a spacewalk. Right now we are focusing on preparing the tools, equipment and procedures.
"Maintaining the ISS from the outside requires intense operations - not just from the crew, but also from our ground support teams who are striving to make this spacewalk as safe and efficient as possible.
"If the spacewalk is successful, this will restore the International Space Station to 100% of its operational capability."
Major Peake's work in space has won over a new army of fans since his launch last month.
He has recorded a message to the Queen, and performed somersaults during a New Year broadcast.
The 43-year-old former Army Air Corps officer and helicopter test pilot is the first Briton aboard the ISS and the first fully British professional astronaut employed by a space agency.
Previous "Brits in space" have either had US or dual citizenship or been on privately funded or sponsored trips.