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The International Space Station is getting a second solar boost in a month as two NASA astronauts go on a spacewalk. The event comes after a stubborn piece of space junk thwarted plans for a spacewalk on Wednesday.
NASA was forced to implement a 24-hour delay so the space station could trigger its thrusters to move away from the debris, which was identified as debris from an airplane. old Russian rocket. Close-up of collision in space is popularas Earth’s low orbit — the area around which the ISS orbits — becomes increasingly crowded with satellites and space junk.
“The crew was not in any immediate danger,” NASA noted in a blog post Wednesday.
The spacewalk begins Thursday at around 8:30 a.m. ET and is expected to last for about seven hours. Live coverage begins at 7 a.m. ET on NASA website.
NASA astronauts Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio installed a solar array outside the floating lab. Rubio is serving as crew member 1 and wearing a red striped suit, while Cassada is wearing an unbranded white suit as crew member 2.
The solar array deployed around 2 p.m. ET, accomplishing the primary goal of the spacewalk. Rubio and Cassada are currently working to clean up their tools and other loose stuff before they head back to the ISS airlock to wrap up the event.
Thursday’s spacewalk is one of many plans to install deploying solar arrays, known as iROSA, to boost electrical power on the space station.
The first two deployed solar arrays were installed outside the station in June 2021. The plan is to add six more iROSAs, which will likely increase the space station’s power generation capacity by more than 30% after when it’s all up and running.
Two other arrays were delivered to the space station on November 27 on the 26th SpaceX Dragon commercial resupply mission, also bring dwarf tomato seeds and other experiments to the orbital lab. Rolled up like a rug, each plate weighs 750 pounds (340 kg) and is 10 feet (3 meters) wide.
Cassada and Rubio installed one outside the space station during their December 3 spacewalk.
The solar array installed on Thursday will increase capacity in one of the space station’s eight power channels, located on its harbor rig.
Once the array is unfolded and bolted into place, it will be 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 power for more than 20 years and are showing signs of wear and tear. after prolonged exposure to the space environment. The arrays were originally designed to last for 15 years.
Erosion can be caused by jets of propellant, emanating from both station and crew propulsion and cargo vehicles to and from the station, as well as microscopic meteorite debris.
New solar arrays are being placed before the original arrays. This is a good test because the device using this same design will power parts of the planned lunar outpost, helping humans return to the moon via NASA’s Artemis Program.
The new arrays will have a similar 15-year lifespan. However, since the degradation on the original arrays is expected to be worse, the team will keep an eye on the new arrays to test their lifespan as they can last longer.
While the US spacewalks continue, Russian spacewalks by astronauts on the space station are stalled after detect coolant leak from Soyuz MS-22 . spacecraftattached to part of the Russian space station.
The leak was discovered on December 14 before a planned Russian spacewalk, when liquid began spewing from Soyuz.
Soyuz’s external radiator cooling ring suspected to be the source of the leak, according to a December 15 report update from NASA.
While the space station crew remains safe, the investigation into the leak is ongoing. During a press conference on Thursday, NASA’s ISS program director, Joel Montalbano, said it was still unclear what caused the 4mm hole in the spacecraft, although it could be a piece of space debris. or hardware problem.
NASA and its Russian partner, Roscosmos, are still assessing whether the spacecraft is safe to carry a crew.
Soyuz MS-22 launched NASA’s Rubio and two Russian cosmonauts to the space station on September 21 and is expected to return them to Earth in March.