Two astronauts will attempt to complete the installation of a new solar array on the International Space Station today (June 20) after running out of time last week and you can watch it live here.
NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet, from the European Space Agency, will exit the Quest airlock around 8 a.m. EDT (1200 GMT), if the extravehicular activity preps go to plan. You can watch the spacewalk live here in the window above, courtesy of NASA TV, or directly via the agency’s website.
On Wednesday (June 16), Kimbrough and Pesquet partially installed the first of six new solar arrays on the space station, but some technical issues and problems with the equipment delayed their attempts to complete the work.
Pesquet, who will be spacewalking for the fourth time, will be wearing the spacesuit with red stripes on it to designate him as lead spacewalker, known as extravehicular crewmember 1 (EV1). Kimbrough, wearing a plain white spacesuit as EV2, will be on his eighth spacewalk, according to NASA.
It will be their fourth spacewalk together; the pair took two spacewalks together during Expedition 50, in 2017. They are currently part of the station’s Expedition 65 crew.
“Space is hard … on our spacewalk, we encountered several issues that the entire team worked through incredibly well,” Kimbrough said on Twitter on Thursday (June 17).
The spacewalk is expected to troubleshoot the installation of the first of the planned ISS Roll-Out Solar Arrays (iROSA) in front of a 20-year-old array located on the far end of the left side of the space station’s backbone truss. If there’s time, the astronauts will also deploy a second iROSA to augment the P6/4B solar array.
NASA is working on the spacewalks to boost the station’s power system, after a more than four-year effort to put in newer and more efficient batteries on the ISS. The eight solar wings had an original design life of 15 years and are showing signs of degraded production of power after exceeding their planned time in orbit.
The newer solar arrays, made by Boeing and arriving at the ISS on a SpaceX Dragon June 5, are designed to deploy in front of the older ones. Once complete, electricity supply on the space station will be boosted by 20% to 30%.
NASA Expedition 65 astronauts Megan McArthur and Mark Vande Hei will support the spacewalkers from inside the space station, while a socially distanced team at NASA Mission Control in Houston will also assist the crew.
NASA says the spacewalk will be the 240th in support of station assembly, maintenance, and upgrades.
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