NASA astronauts conduct spacewalks to improve space station power supplies

NASA astronauts conduct spacewalks to improve space station power supplies

The space station is preparing for more power upgrades as two NASA astronauts make their first spacewalks of the year on Tuesday.

Astronauts Kayla Barron and Raja Chari got on and off the space station to begin the installation at approximately 8:12 a.m. ET. Live coverage on NASA TV and the website began at 6:30 a.m. ET, and the spacewalk is expected to last six hours and 30 minutes.

The in-space duo will assemble and install modification kits that will allow for future solar panel updates outside the space station. Barron and Chari will install the struts and brackets that will be used to support the arrival of more ISS Roll-Out Solar Arrays, or iROSAs.

During the spacewalk, Barron will be an EVA Crew Member 1 in the red striped suit and Shari will be recognized as an EVA Crew Member 2 in the striped suit. This is Barron’s second spacewalk after her first in December, and the first in Shari’s career.

Two of the iROSAs were placed 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 carpet and measure 750 pounds (340 kg) and 10 feet (3 meters) wide. Four more arrays will be delivered during a future mission.

While 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 and tear after prolonged exposure to the space environment. Arrays were originally designed to last 15 years.

The new solar panels are placed in front of the existing solar panels. It’s also a good test for the new solar panels, as the same design will power parts of the Moon’s Gateway, which will help people return to the moon through NASA’s Artemis program.

The agency is preparing for its second spacewalk on March 23, starting at 8:50 a.m. ET.

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While crew members have not yet been announced, they will be responsible for making a number of installation upgrades, including replacing the external camera and installing hoses on the radiator jet valve unit that direct ammonia through the plant’s heat-reducing radiators for heating. To keep it the right way. temperature.

International cooperation in space

The space station is about to become a hub of activity as a new Russian crew will head to the International Space Station on Friday with four Americans, one European and two Russians already on board.

On March 30, NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hee will return to Earth with Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Peter Dubrov.

NASA said Monday that Vande Hee will return from the International Space Station aboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, as previously scheduled. The space agency on Monday tried to reiterate that it continues to work closely with the Russian space agency Rocosmos on the International Space Station, despite escalating geopolitical tensions.

Vande He, who flew to the International Space Station in April 2021, will land as usual aboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft in Kazakhstan. NASA officials did not say there would be major changes in plans to bring Vande Hee back to the United States after landing. He will travel home via Gulfstream, as other American astronauts before him have done.

For nearly a decade, Russian Soyuz vehicles have been the only means of transporting astronauts to and from the space station. But that dependence ended after SpaceX launched its Crew Dragon capsule in 2020 and the United States restored human spaceflight capabilities.

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Joel Montalbano, program manager for NASA’s International Space Station, said joint operations between NASA and Roscosmos at the Russian facilities in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, “are continuing well.” “I can tell you for sure, Mark [Vande Hei] On board the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, Montalbano said Monday.

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