French Astronaut Thomas Pesquet floated into space on his first ever spacewalk, and helped install three new refrigerator-sized lithium-ion batteries to upgrade the power system at the international space station.

Wearing a white spacesuit with the French flag emblazoned on one shoulder, Pesquet and American astronaut Shane Kimbrough switched on their spacesuits’ internal battery power to mark the official start of the spacewalk at 1122 gmt.

A NASA commentator said this is Pesquet’s first foray into the vacuum of space.

Commentator also described the outing as completely successful.

New batteries weigh about 194 kilograms each, and replace older, but far lighter, nickel hydrogen batteries.

Batteries’ role is to store power for the orbiting lab as it flies in earth shadow.

Space station travels at a speed of more than 17,000 miles per hour, and circles the earth about every 90 minutes, periodically moving through light and darkness.