NASA's SpaceX Crew-2 Astronauts Complete 6-Hour Spacewalk To Upgrade The Space Station’s Power System

Evelyn Arevalo by Evelyn Arevalo June 20, 2021

NASA's SpaceX Crew-2 Astronauts Complete 6-Hour Spacewalk To Upgrade The Space Station’s Power System

SpaceX launched Crew-2 NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough, Megan McArthur, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Thomas Pesquet to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard Crew Dragon on April 23. The crew will work at the orbiting laboratory for 6-months as part of the Expedition 65 mission. This week, SpaceX Crew-2 Commander Kimbrough and mission specialist Pesquet conducted two spacewalks to install the ISS Roll-Out Solar Arrays (iROSAs) to upgrade the station’s power channels. A pair of iROSA arrays arrived to the Space Station earlier this month aboard SpaceX’s CRS-22 cargo resupply mission. The astronauts first spacewalk took place on Wednesday, June 16, during which they experienced technical issues that were resolved but they could not complete the task and only laid the foundation for the first solar array installation.

On Sunday, June 20th, Kimbrough and Pesquet conducted another spacewalk to complete the iROSA installation. The spacewalkers switched-on their spacesuits to battery power at 7:42 a.m. EDT to begin the spacewalk. The pair successfully connected and deployed the first of six total new iROSA’s that will be installed in the coming years to upgrade the Space Station’s power supply.

The new solar array was installed in front of current arrays. NASA says the old arrays are “functioning well but have begun to show signs of expected degradation as they have operated beyond their designed 15-year service life.” They have been providing power to ISS for over 20 years. “The new solar array is positioned in front of the current solar array on the same plane and rotary joints, but not directly on top of the primary solar arrays. The new arrays are 60 feet long by 20 feet wide (18.2 meters by 6 meters) and will shade a little more than half of the original array, which is 112 feet long by 39 feet wide,” the agency said. Each new iROSA solar array will produce over 20 kilowatts of electricity. 

Kimbrough and Pesquet unfolded the solar array and bolted it into its designated location as they enjoyed beautiful views of Earth from outside ISS. They also carefully connected iROSA’s cables to the station’s power supply. The spacewalk was concluded at 2:10 p.m. EDT, after 6 hours and 28 minutes. It marked the fourth spacewalk Kimbrough and Pesquet have conducted together throughout their astronaut career. This was the eight spacewalk for Kimbrough and the fourth for Pesquet. After they completed the first solar array’s installation, the brave duo removed additional hardware from outside the ISS Lab to prepare for the installation of the second iROSA. Their next spacewalk is scheduled for June 25 [date is subject to change].

All Images Source: NASA & SpaceX





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