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ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter is gearing up for a spacewalk around the International Space Station along with his NASA colleague, Jeff Williams.

The two men will leave the relative safety of the station on 3 August and will spend around six and a half hours tinkering with the structure of the space habitat.

They will install various bits and pieces on the outside of the station, to get it ready for the next stage of construction, set to begin when the next Shuttle mission arrives.

The European Space Agency (ESA) says the work will include preparations for expanding the station's main truss and installing additional solar arrays. They will also get it ready for a number of new experiments and instruments that will soon be set up on the outside of the station.

The astronauts have begun their preparations: checking tools, flushing the airlock, and making sure there are no obvious holes in their snazzy space suits. ESA explains that Retier will be wearing all white (very now, darling) while Williams will be in red candy stripes.

The next Shuttle mission is slated for 27 August. NASA says it is ready to move Atlantis out to the launchpad tonight, weather permitting, of course. ®

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