Astronauts complete spacewalk to boost ISS power

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The International Space Station received its second solar power boost in a month as two NASA astronauts embarked on a spacewalk to install a new solar panel. The event comes after plans to launch a spacewalk on Wednesday were disrupted by stray space debris.

NASA was forced to implement a 24-hour delay so the space station could burn its propellants and get out of the way of the debris, which was identified as a piece of debris. Old Russian rocket. Close collisions in space are commonLow Earth orbit – the region in which the ISS orbits – is becoming increasingly crowded with satellites and space debris.

“The crew is not in immediate danger,” NASA said in a blog post on Wednesday.

The spacewalk began around 8:30 a.m. ET Thursday and lasted about seven hours.

NASA astronauts Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio installed a new solar array called iROSA outside the floating observatory. Rubio serves as Extravehicular Crew Member 1 and wears a red striped suit, while Casada wears a white suit as Extravehicular Crew Member 2.

The solar array was deployed around 2 p.m. ET, completing the spacewalk’s primary goal. Rubio and Cassada returned to the ISS airlock, ending the event about an hour later.

Casada and Rubio already installed a solar array outside the space station on December 3. And from June 2021, two iROSAs were deployed outside the station. A total of six IROSAs will be added, increasing the power output of the space station. More than 30% when everything works.

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Two more arrays were delivered to the space station on November 27 on the 26th SpaceX Dragon commercial resupply mission. The dwarf carried tomato seeds and other experiments to the orbiting laboratory. Rolled up like a carpet, the rows weigh 750 pounds (340 kilograms) each.

Jupiter’s installed solar array will boost capacity in one of the space station’s eight power channels located on its port truss. During a webcast of the spacewalk, a NASA commentator confirmed that the newly installed iROSA is already generating power for the ISS.

Fully extended, the solar array is about 63 feet (19 meters) long and 20 feet (6 meters) wide.

The original solar arrays on the space station are still functional, but they have been providing electricity for over 20 years and are showing signs of wear and tear. After prolonged exposure to the space environment. The arrays were originally designed to last 15 years.

Erosion can be caused by thruster plumes from both the station’s thrusters and personnel and freight vehicles traveling to and from the station, as well as micrometeorite debris.

New solar arrays are placed in front of the original ones. It’s a good test, because equipment using the same design will power parts of the planned Gateway lunar outpost, which will help return humans to the moon. NASA’s Artemis project.

The new arrays will have a similar lifespan of 15 years. However, as degradation of the original arrays is expected to be worse, the team will monitor the new ones To test their longevity because they last longer.

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While US spacewalks continue, Russian spacewalks conducted by astronauts on the space station continue to be suspended. Discovery of refrigerant leaks from Soyuz MS-22 spacecraftIt is attached to the Russian section of the space station.

The leak was discovered when fluid began leaking from the Soyuz ahead of a scheduled Russian spacewalk on December 14.

As of December 15, Soyuz’s external radiator cooling loop is suspected to be the source of the leak. Upgrade From NASA.

While the space station crew was safe, an investigation into the leak is ongoing. During a news conference Thursday, NASA’s ISS program manager Joel Montalbano said it’s still unclear what caused the 4-millimeter hole in the spacecraft, though it could be space debris or a hardware problem.

NASA and its Russian counterpart, Roscosmos, are still evaluating whether the spacecraft is safe to carry a crew.

Soyuz MS-22 carried NASA’s Rubio and two Russian astronauts to the space station on September 21 and is scheduled to bring them back to Earth in March.

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