Astronauts hundreds of miles above the Earth will install a new solar array at the International Space Station today (June 16) and watch the action live.
NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesce will spend about 6.5 hours together working together in the vacuum of space ahead of today’s spacewalk or spacewalk.
NASA will be broadcasting a live broadcast starting at 6:30 am ET (10:30 am GMT), while the spacewalk is slated to begin around 8:00 am ET (12:00 pm GMT), when the astronauts switch their suits to battery power. They will then exit the Quest airlock and head to the far left (left) side of the space station to install a solar array on Power Channel 2B.
You can watch the spacewalk live here in the window above, courtesy of NASA TV or directly via the agency’s website.
Connected: Astronauts-cosmonauts prepare the International Space Station to install new solar panels
Sand, who will make his third spacewalk, will wear a spacesuit with red stripes on it to mark him as the spacewalker known as EV1 Crew Member 1 (EV1). Dressed in a plain white spacesuit called EV2, Kimbro will make his seventh spacewalk, according to NASA. And this will be their third joint spacewalk; the pair completed two spacewalks during their 50th expedition in 2017.
During the spacewalk, the astronauts will work with the Canadarm2 robotic arm to help install solar panels, while the rest of the time the astronauts will be tethered to the space station. (As a backup, astronauts can use jetpacks called Simplified Aid for EVA Rescue or SAFER if they accidentally escape, although this has never happened in more than 20 years of operation of the space station.)
If recent spacewalks are any indication, astronauts will be offered spectacular views of the ISS against the backdrop of Earth, given their unusual distance from the space station’s core. The new arrays arrived at the station in the SpaceX Dragon freighter on June 5, and robotics operators used the Canadarm2 robot to move them into place for installation on June 20, NASA said.
The ISS is ramping up its power to get the much-needed boost for scientific work. Various spacewalk crews have installed lithium-ion batteries in the orbital complex over the past four years, replacing old nickel-hydrogen batteries in spacewalks that ended in February this year. (In fact, the two spacewalks Kimbrough and Peske performed together in January and March 2017 were also about power upgrades.)
Next up are the solar panels, which were installed on the space station in December 2000, September 2006, June 2007 and March 2009. They are rated for 15 years and are still performing well, but NASA said that to save, construction of the station will be completed before the end of the current agreement in 2024 – and a possible extension of the ISS.
“While they are functioning well, the current solar panels are showing signs of degradation as expected,” the agency said in a January description of the new job. New solar panels will appear in front of six of the existing ones, which will raise the power level to 215 kilowatts from the current levels of 160 kilowatts.
Astronauts from inside the space station will be assisted by NASA astronauts Megan MacArthur and Mark Vande Hay, who work with suit preparation procedures and robotics. A socially distanced team at NASA’s Mission Control Center in Houston will also assist the crew of Expedition 65.
The duo’s next spacewalk will take place on Sunday (June 20), when Peske and Kimbro will once again travel to the Port-6 truss to install a second set of solar panels on Power Channel 4B – the site where astronauts are known to have made. rescue spacewalk to close the massive rift in 2007. Lighting on Sunday will also begin at 6:30 am ET (10:30 GMT) with an expected start time at 8:00 am ET (12:00 GMT).
NASA says the two new spacewalks will be 239th and 240th in support of station assembly, maintenance and upgrades.
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