Tim Peake to be the first British astronaut to spacewalk
Nasa astronaut Tim Kopra performing a spacewalk outside the ISS on 21 December, 2015Reuters

Nasa and the European Space Agency (ESA) have confirmed that Tim Peake will soon be the first British citizen to perform a spacewalk. He will be accompanied by Nasa astronaut Tim Kopra for it, which is expected to take place on 15 January.

Peake and Kopra will step out of the International Space Station (ISS) to carry out repairs and replace a malfunctioning voltage regulator located outside the ISS. This will be the second time in a matter of weeks that Kopra has undertaken a spacewalk. Peake provided assistance when Kopra and station commander Scott Kelly performed one on 21 December 2015 to move an equipment carrier.

ESA reports that the upcoming spacewalk is slated to last for about six hours, during which Kopra and Peake will work together to replace the failed equipment. Commenting on the task ahead, Peake said: "Our primary task will be to replace a failed solar shunt unit, which transfers electrical power generated by the solar panels."

In 2015, a failure in the unit's system had led to a power outage in one of the eight power channels of the ISS. According to Nasa, the unit, which is shaped like a box, will be fairly easy to replace. The astronauts will simply have to undo a bolt to remove it. That is not all that the two Tims will have to do. The unit's internal valves require reinstallation as well. The trickiest part, however, will most likely be the laying of new cables at the ISS's docking ports.

Nasa said Peake and Kopra have "checked out their US spacesuits ensuring a good fit and readied their spacewalk tools".

Peake tweeted about the spacewalk. He wrote: "If the spacewalk is successful, this will restore the International Space Station to 100% of its operational capability."