Astronauts have left the International Space Station (ISS) for the third time in two weeks to supplement the spacecraft’s power system with new solar panels.
NASA spokesman Shane Kimbrough and French astronaut from the European Space Agency (ESA) Tom Pesce made a spacewalk lasting 6 hours 45 minutes, during which they installed the second of six new solar arrays on the International Space Station (ISS). The pair previously worked together during the spacewalks on June 16 and 20 to install the first part of the battery.
On Friday, during extravehicular activity, a second device was installed opposite the first on the far left side of the space station’s support truss.
New, more powerful, but smaller batteries are installed in front of the old station arrays in such a way that they partially overlap them. Researchers are doing this on purpose – aging batteries are starting to show signs of declining energy production as they have more than 15 years of design life. The P6 arrays – the first pair installed in December 2000 – have been generating power for the station for over 20 years.
When used together, the old and new areas will be able to increase the power supply to the station by 20-30%. In total, it is planned to mount six such panels to generate more electricity. The first of two new panels were installed and connected during two previous spacewalks last week.