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NASA SpaceX Crew-6 Astronauts install solar array during a Spacewalk, Boosting power generation at the Space Station

NASA SpaceX Crew-6 Astronauts install solar array during a Spacewalk, Boosting power generation at the Space Station

Today, June 9, NASA astronauts performed a meticulously orchestrated spacewalk. NASA Expedition 69 Flight Engineers Steve Bowen and Warren 'Woody' Hoburg launched to the International Space Station (ISS) atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket as part of the Crew-6 mission in March, which is the sixth operational mission of NASA Commercial Crew Program that will last around six months. They successfully installed the latest ISS Roll-Out Solar Array (iROSA) today, marking a significant milestone in advancing the Station's power generation capabilities. The daring extravehicular activity (EVA) lasted an impressive 6 hours and 3 minutes, culminating in the completion of all designated objectives. Bowen and Hoburg's primary task was to augment power generation for the station's starboard truss structure by installing the iROSA on the 1A power channel. With unwavering precision, the astronauts meticulously executed each step of the installation process. Additionally, they managed to complete several extra tasks, setting the stage for their next spacewalk on Thursday, June 15.

The EVA commenced at 9:25 a.m. EDT when Bowen and Hoburg switched their spacesuits to battery power and exited the U.S. Quest airlock. Following their separation, Bowen proceeded towards the temporary mounting site of the iROSA while Hoburg embarked on installing a portable foot restraint on the Canadarm2 robotic arm. Hoburg skillfully maneuvered the arm, aided by Emirati astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi from inside the space station. AlNeyadi also launched to the ISS as part of the SpaceX Crew-6 mission.

Once Bowen released the iROSA from its pallet, Hoburg securely held onto the 750-pound (340 kilograms) solar array, skillfully carrying it to its designated installation mount on the starboard side of the station's backbone truss. As AlNeyadi expertly controlled the robotic arm, Hoburg and the hardware gracefully made their way to the new location. Bowen joined Hoburg to assist with the "soft dock" procedure, ensuring the iROSA was securely placed atop its mounting bracket, previously installed during an earlier spacewalk.

As planned, the astronauts patiently waited for the International Space Station to enter Earth's shadow. Once in darkness, they expertly attached the necessary cables to connect the new iROSA with the Station's legacy 1A power channel solar array. This crucial step was completed during a night pass when the solar arrays don't generate electricity, ensuring a seamless connection. The two astronauts reentered the ISS Quest airlock, marking the completion of the spacewalk at 3:28 p.m. EDT. The spacewalk was Hoburg's first and Bowen's ninth. Bowen is an experienced astronaut that has now spent a total of 60 hours and 22 minutes on spacewalks. You can watch the recorded broadcast of today's spacewalk in the video linked below.  

 

The iROSA, measuring an impressive 60 feet long by 20 feet wide (18.2 meters by 6 meters), will partially shade the older solar arrays, which spanned 112 feet long by 39 feet wide. Each iROSA is capable of producing more than 20 kilowatts of electricity, leading to an impressive 30% increase in power production when all the arrays are installed. "This time-lapse video sped up 7.7 times shows the new roll-out solar array being deployed after spacewalkers Bowen and Woody successfully installed it on the station today," shared agency representatives via Twitter (see video clip below).  

This marked the 264th spacewalk conducted to support Space Station assembly, upgrades, and maintenance. The accomplished astronauts are currently participating in a science mission aboard the ISS by performing research, dedicating their time to advancing scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies for future human and robotic exploration, including NASA's Artemis program.

The successful installation of the iROSA signifies another monumental achievement for the International Space Station, unlocking increased power generation capabilities that will support ongoing research and technological advancements in space. As the station continues to evolve, astronauts like Bowen and Hoburg remain at the forefront, propelling humanity's quest for knowledge and paving the way for future human and robotic exploration missions, including upcoming lunar endeavors through NASA's Artemis program.

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Featured Image Source: NASA Broadcast

About the Author

Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo

Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo

Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.

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