NASA Spacewalk Live: Watch ISS Astronauts Nick Hague and Andrew Morgan Over 6.5 Hour Mission

Two NASA astronauts are currently conducting a six-and-a-half hour spacewalk—and you can watch the whole thing live online.

The astronauts, Nick Hague and Andrew Morgan, are both flight engineers for the Expedition 60 mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS)—which is jointly operated by NASA and the Russian, European, Japanese and Canadian space agencies.

The main aim of the spacewalk is to install a special piece of equipment known as the International Docking Adapter-3 (IDA-3,) which is designed to provide a second docking port to the space station.

This additional docking port—which was launched to the ISS last month—will enable the space station to accommodate new spacecraft designed by private companies in future missions, including SpaceX's Dragon 2 reusable spacecraft and Boeing's CST Starliner.

The IDA-3 will be fitted to a part on the space station known as the Pressurized Mating Adapter-3 located on the Harmony Module—which acts as a connecting segment for the ISS's science labs and cargo spacecraft.

The Harmony module is also a hub for several key utilities, providing the ISS with air, electrical power, water, and other essential life support systems, according to NASA.

The astronauts officially began the spacewalk at around 8:30 a.m. EDT, departing from the Quest airlock as the ISS flew more than 260 miles above the Atlantic Ocean.

To watch the proceedings head over to NASA's online TV station or the International Space Station's Facebook page.

The installation of the IDA-3 forms part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program—a collaboration with the American aerospace industry to develop launch systems capable of carrying crews to low-Earth orbit and the ISS.

This is significant because "Americans have not flown to orbit aboard an American rocket or from an American launch pad since July 8, 2011," John M. Horack, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering from The Ohio State University, wrote for The Conversation.

"This gap of nearly eight years and counting is the longest in our history, eclipsing the six-year gap between Apollo-Soyuz in 1975 and the Space Shuttle program in 1981," he wrote. "Since the retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2011, the United States has paid Russia approximately $75 million per seat to launch U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station aboard Soyuz spacecraft from a launch site in Kazakhstan."

According to NASA, the Commercial Crew Program is a crucial part of its future space exploration plans.

"NASA's commercial crew partnership with Boeing and SpaceX will restore launches of American astronauts from American soil on American rockets and maximize the time U.S. crews can dedicate to scientific research and technological advances aboard the orbiting laboratory to enable the agency's ambitious goals for the Artemis lunar exploration program and future missions to the moon and Mars," a NASA statement read.

"Regular human space transportation to the space station is a critical step to opening the space station for commercial business to enable the growth of the U.S. commercial space sector and the development of a robust low-Earth orbit economy," the statement read.

NASA astronauts, Nick Hague, Andrew Morgan
NASA astronauts (from left) Andrew Morgan and Nick Hague pose with the spacesuits they will wear during a six-and-a-half-hour spacewalk to install the International Docking Adapter-3. NASA