The space station is preparing for more power upgrades as two NASA astronauts took their first spacewalk of the year on Tuesday.
This was the 247th spacewalk to support the assembly, maintenance and modernization of the space station.
The space duo have assembled and installed modification kits that will allow for future solar panel upgrades outside the space station. Barron and Chari have installed posts and brackets that will be used to support the arrival of more ISS Roll-Out Solar Arrays, or iROSAs.
During the spacewalk, Barron was the EV 1 crew member in the red striped suit and Shari was identified as an EVA 2 crew member in the striped suit. This was Barron’s second career in space after completing his first flight in December and the first in Shari’s career.
Two of the iROSA systems have been installed during previous spacewalks, and once all the arrays are installed, six of the space station’s eight power channels are expected to increase, increasing the available supply from 160 kW to 215 kW.
Six of the solar panels arrived at the space station on June 5 after being launched on the 22nd SpaceX Dragon cargo resupply mission. The mats are covered like a rug and are 750 lb (340 kg) wide and 10 ft (3 m) wide. Four more arrays will be delivered during a future mission.
Although the space station’s current solar panels are still functional, they have been in operation for the space station for more than 20 years and are showing some signs of wear after long-term exposure to the space environment. Arrays were originally designed to last 15 years.
The agency is preparing for a second spacewalk on March 23, starting at 8:50 a.m. ET.
Although crew members have not yet been announced, they will be responsible for making a number of updates to the installation, including replacing the external cam and placing hoses on the radiator package valve unit that direct ammonia through the station’s heat exhaust radiators to maintain the correct temperature.
International cooperation in space
The space station is on its way to becoming a hub of activity, as a new Russian crew will depart Friday for the International Space Station, joining four Americans, one European and two Russians already on board.
On March 30, NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hee is expected to return to Earth with Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Peter Dobrov.
NASA said Monday that Vande Hee will return from the International Space Station aboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft as previously planned. The space agency tried to reaffirm Monday that it was still working closely with Russia’s Rocosmos space agency on the International Space Station, despite escalating geopolitical tensions.
Vande He, which took off to the International Space Station in April 2021, will land aboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft in Kazakhstan, as usual. NASA officials did not say there would be major changes in plans to return Vande Hee to the United States after landing. He will return home via Gulfstream, as have other American astronauts before him.
For nearly a decade, Russian Soyuz vehicles have been the only means of transporting astronauts to and from the space station. But that addiction ended after SpaceX launched its Crew Dragon capsule in 2020 and the United States restored human spaceflight capabilities.
According to Joel Montalbano, program manager for NASA’s International Space Station, joint operations between NASA and Roscosmos at the Russian facilities in Baikonur, Kazakhstan are “going well.” “I can definitely tell you, Mark [Vande Hei] On board the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, Montalbano said Monday.
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