Featured Image Source: NASA
Early Wednesday, July 1st, NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Chris Cassidy conducted a second spacewalk outside to upgrade the International Space Station’s (ISS) power system. The 6-hour long spacewalk initiated at 7:13 a.m. EDT. and concluded at 12:14 p.m. EDT. The veteran astronauts have experience spacewalking, it was the eighth mission outside the ISS laboratory for both. Overall, Astronaut Cassidy has spent a total of 43 hours and 22 minutes spacewalking, and Astronaut Behnken 49 hours and 41 minutes, he holds the 11th place in the agency’s record of the most time spent in space conducting extravehicular activities (EVA).
Astronaut Behnken, along with Astronaut Doug Hurley, launched aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft on May 30th, they joined Cassidy on the space station on May 31st. Hurley helped Cassidy and Behnken suit up and monitored the extravehicular tasks. During their first spacewalk on June 25, the astronauts completed changing five out of six old nickel-hydrogen batteries with new lithium-ion batteries on a structure outside the ISS called 'Starboard-6'. These batteries are used to store solar energy from the station’s solar arrays. Astronauts have been changing the old nickel-hydrogen batteries to lithium-ion since January 2017. The power capacity of lithium-ion batteries is significantly better.
During today’s spacewalk, the brave astronaut duo completed a series of tasks outside the station. They removed a final nickel-hydrogen battery and installed one more lithium-ion battery and one more adapter plate on Starboard-6. “They successfully moved and connected one new, powerful lithium-ion battery and its adapter place to complete the circuit to the new battery and relocated one aging nickel-hydrogen battery to an external platform for future disposal,” NASA wrote in a press release.
With today's battery swaps now complete, @AstroBehnken is removing a device called an “H-fixture," located at the base of the @Space_Station’s solar arrays. Meanwhile, @Astro_SEAL is installing a power cable. pic.twitter.com/ANUUZ0bRcS— NASA (@NASA) July 1, 2020
Astronauts Cassidy and Behnken also removed a device called an “H-Fixture” to support future battery replacements, and they also loosened the bolts on the nickel-hydrogen batteries that will be replaced by during two future spacewalks. The next spacewalk will complete the space station’s power system upgrade.
Another task they completed today was routing the power and ethernet cables in preparation for a future installation of an upgraded external wireless communications system that will feature a better HD (high-definition) camera, the agency says it will “increase helmet camera coverage for future spacewalks.”
.@Astro_SEAL has completed routing a power cable, but removing a stubborn H-fixture is no longer on @AstroBehnken’s to-do list and he is bolting it back into place. The spacewalk continues. 🔧 pic.twitter.com/Wecx61Rn9n— NASA (@NASA) July 1, 2020
Later this month, they will complete the work during two final spacewalks. Then, Behnken and Hurley are expected to return to Earth aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft on August 2nd, according to NASA Commercial Crew Program manager Steve Stitch.“It looks like the first opportunity to undock and come home would be around August the second. We just have to sort of see how the EVA’s [extravehicular activity/spacewalks] go,” Stitch said, “And then we are really trying to set us up for allow that time-frame in August to come home. So, that’s the first opportunity around August 2.”
“… Sometimes things go according to plan, sometimes they go off schedule,” he added.
After the two spacewalks are completed, the astronauts will return next month. Crew Dragon will take a fiery plunge through Earth’s atmosphere with Behnken and Hurley aboard. It will be the first time SpaceX returns humans from space. The craft will conduct a parachute-assisted landing in the Atlantic Ocean, where SpaceX recovery teams will be ready to pick them up.