Astronauts install new solar panel on ISS during epic six-hour spacewalk


Two astronauts from NASA and the European Space Agency have successfully installed the first of six new solar panels on the International Space Station (ISS).

The mission is the first step in a program to increase the ISS’s power generation capacity to meet future demands, including Artemis – NASA’s planned crewed mission to the Moon, currently slated for 2023.

Some of the original berries have been in place for 20 years and are showing signs of age. The six new bays will be installed directly on top of the existing bays and will generate roughly the same amount of power despite being only half their size.

Once fully installed, the arrays will be able to power the ISS until 2030.

© Deployable space systems

The solar panels were built by engineers at Deployable Space System’s facility in Goleta, Calif., And each measure 19 x 6 meters. The cells that make up the matrices were made by Spectrolab, a company based about 100 miles from Sylmar, and are among the most powerful ever launched into space.

Crew Dragon Endeavor spaceship © NASA / Jonhson

© NASA / Jonhson

Commander Shane Kimbrough, with the pilot Megan McArthur and mission specialists Akihiko Hoshide and Thomas Pesquet, traveled to the ISS aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavor spacecraft in April to prepare for the installation.

The new dies, rolled up in cylindrical cans © NASA / Johnson

© NASA / Jonhson

As the station’s original rows fold and unfold like an accordion, the new rows unroll like a carpet from inside a cylindrical box.

The solar panel in place © NASA / Jonhson

© NASA / Jonhson

NASA’s Kimbrough and European Space Agency Pesquet spent six hours and 28 minutes outside the station, slowly deploying the new network and putting it in place. It was the eighth spacewalk for Kimbrough, the fourth for Pesquet and the fourth they have conducted together.

The remaining networks are expected to be installed by ISS astronauts later this year.

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