After a one-day delay due to space debris astronauts finally begin their spacewalk. Two NASA astronauts will perform a spacewalk to install solar panels on the International Space Station for the second time in a month. The spacewalk was supposed to take place on Wednesday, but a piece of space trash caused complications.
The debris, determined to be a piece of an obsolete Russian rocket, forced NASA to institute a 24-hour delay so that the space station could activate its thrusters to maneuver out of the way. As more and more satellites and other space debris crowd into low-Earth orbit (where the ISS orbits), close calls between spacecraft are becoming increasingly common.
In a blog post on Wednesday, NASA stated that “the crew is not in any immediate danger.”
The spacewalk began at about 8:30 a.m. ET on Thursday and will last for about seven hours. Coverage started at 7 a.m. ET live on NASA’s website.
Read more: Four Bills make Pro Bowl, including first-timers Jordan Poyer and Mitch Morse.
Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio, two NASA astronauts, set up a solar array on the roof of the mobile lab. As extravehicular crew member 1, Rubio wears a red-striped suit, and as extravehicular crew member 2, Cassada wears a plain white suit.
At about 2 p.m. ET, the primary mission of the spacewalk was completed when the solar array was deployed. Before returning to the ISS airlock, Rubio and Cassada finish cleaning up their tools and other debris.
Installation of the iROSA rollout solar arrays is a primary goal of the spacewalk scheduled for Thursday.
In June of 2021, the station’s exterior received its first two rollout solar arrays. Once all six iROSAs are operational, the space station’s power generation is expected to increase by more than 30 percent.
As part of the 26th SpaceX Dragon commercial resupply mission, which also delivered dwarf tomato seeds and other experiments to the orbiting laboratory on November 27th, two more arrays were delivered to the space station. The arrays are 750 pounds (340 kilograms) each and 10 feet (three meters) wide when rolled up like a carpet.
On December 3, during a spacewalk, Cassada and Rubio successfully installed one outside the station.
The solar array installed on the space station’s port truss on Thursday will increase capacity in one of the station’s eight power channels.
When fully extended and secured, the array will measure roughly 63 feet (19 meters) in length and 20 feet (6 meters) in width.
However, after more than 20 years of providing power to the station, the original solar arrays are starting to show their age and the effects of being in space. These arrays were constructed with a 15-year lifespan in mind.
Thruster plumes from the station’s thrusters and those of crew and cargo vehicles entering and exiting the station can cause erosion, as can fragments of micrometeorites.
The new solar panels will be installed in front of the existing ones. This is a practical test, as similar hardware will power sections of the Gateway lunar outpost, facilitating NASA’s Artemis program to return humans to the moon.
A similar lifespan of 15 years is expected from the new arrays. While the degradation of the older collections was anticipated to be more severe, the team will keep an eye on the new ones to see how long they last.
After discovering a coolant leak from the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft, which is docked to the Russian segment of the space station, cosmonauts have temporarily suspended their spacewalks. At the same time, the United States continues with theirs.
A liquid leak was discovered in the Soyuz on December 14, a day before a scheduled Russian spacewalk.
According to a NASA update from the 15th of December, the Soyuz external radiator cooling loop is the likely source of the leak.
Even though everyone on board the space station is OK, the leak is still being looked into. NASA’s ISS program manager Joel Montalbano said at a news conference on Thursday that the cause of a 4-millimeter hole in the spacecraft is still unknown and could have been caused by anything from space debris to a faulty piece of hardware.
We still don’t know if the spacecraft is safe to transport a crew because NASA and Roscosmos are still evaluating it.
Rubio and two Russian cosmonauts were launched into space on September 21 aboard the Soyuz MS-22, and they were supposed to return to Earth in March.