NASA astronauts conduct spacewalks to improve space station power supplies

The space station is preparing for more performance upgrades as two NASA astronauts take their first spacewalk of the year on Tuesday.

Astronauts Kayla Barron and Raja Chari got dressed and exited the space station to begin some installation at around 8:12 p.m. ET. Live coverage started on NASA TV and website At 6:30 a.m. ET, the spacewalk is expected to take six hours and 30 minutes.

The in-space duo will assemble and install modification kits that will allow future solar array upgrades outside the space station. Barron and Chari will install the trusses and brackets that will be used to support the arrival of the International Space Station’s Additional Solar Power Arrays, or iROSAs.

During the spacewalk, Barron will be a member of the EVA Crew 1 wearing the red striped suit and Shari will be recognized as a member of the EVA Crew 2 wearing the striped suit. This is Barron’s second space flight after her first in December, and the first in Shari’s career.

Two of the iROSA devices have been deployed during previous spacewalks, and once all the arrays are installed, it is planned to expand six of the space station’s eight power channels, increasing the available supply from 160 kW to 215 kW.

Six of the solar arrays arrived at the space station on June 5 after being launched on SpaceX’s 22nd cargo resupply mission. The mats are covered like carpets and are 340 kg (750 lb) wide and 3 m (10 ft) wide. Four more arrays will be delivered during a future mission.

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While the space station’s current solar arrays are still operational, they have been operating the space station for more than 20 years and are showing some signs of wear after long-term exposure to the space environment. Arrays were originally designed to last 15 years.

The new solar fields are placed in front of the existing ones. It’s also a good test for the new solar arrays, as the same design will occupy parts of the lunar outpost, which will help people return to the moon. NASA’s Artemis Program.

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

Although the crew members have not yet been announced, they will be responsible for a number of plumbing upgrades, including replacing the external cam and installing hoses in the radiator valve assembly, which passes ammonia through the station’s heat removal radiators to keep it in order. Maintains temperature.

International cooperation in space

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

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

NASA announced Monday that Vande He will return from the International Space Station aboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft as previously planned. The space agency tried to confirm on Monday that it was still working closely with Russia’s Rocosmos space agency on the International Space Station, despite escalating geopolitical tensions.

Vande Hee, which blasted off to the International Space Station in April 2021, will land in Kazakhstan aboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft as usual. NASA officials haven’t said there will be any significant changes to 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.

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

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

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