‘Breathtaking views’: Nasa, ESA astronauts start spacewalk to install new solar arrays at ISS
- The US space agency live-streamed the spacewalk as the astronauts from Nasa and ESA worked to replace the solar arrays of the International Space Station.
Expedition 65 astronauts from Nasa and European Space Agency (ESA) on Wednesday started their first of the two spacewalks scheduled to install new solar arrays to help power the International Space Station (ISS). Nasa flight engineer Shane Kimbrough and European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet exited the space station and set their spacesuits to battery power at 8:11am ET (5:41pm IST), marking the start of a six and a half hour spacewalk to install the first two of six ISS Roll-Out Solar Arrays (iROSAs).
The new solar arrays had arrived at the station in the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft as part of the company’s commercial resupply services mission to the station. Nasa said that though the current solar arrays are functioning well, they have begun to show signs of degradation since they were designed for 15-year service life.
The US space agency live-streamed the spacewalk as the astronauts from Nasa and ESA worked to replace the solar arrays. In a 40-second clip shared by Nasa, ESA astronaut Pesquet can be seen using a Pistol Grip Tool (PGT) to break bolts on the carrier housing the new solar arrays, with a breathtaking view of Earth in the background.
“Breathtaking views from today's spacewalk as astronauts @Thom_astro and @astro_kimbrough continue their work to install and deploy the first of the new solar arrays,” tweeted International Space Station from its official handle.
The original solar arrays were deployed in December 2000 and have been powering the space station for more than 20 years. The new set of solar arrays will be positioned in front of six of the current arrays to increase the space station’s total available power from 160 kilowatts to a maximum of 215 kilowatts, as per Nasa. The International Space Station completed 20 years of continuous human presence in November 2020.
“In that time, 244 people from 19 countries have visited the orbiting laboratory that has hosted nearly 3,000 research investigations from researchers in 108 countries and areas,” Nasa said in a statement.
The next spacewalk is scheduled for Sunday, June 20. It will be the 240th spacewalk in support of station assembly, maintenance, and upgrades.