Astronauts set up a brand new photo voltaic panel close to the Worldwide House Station – Spaceflight Now

Astronauts set up a brand new photo voltaic panel close to the Worldwide House Station – Spaceflight Now

NASA astronaut Josh Casado, sporting a spacesuit with pink stripes, holds the ISS’s retractable photo voltaic panel whereas driving the area station’s robotic arm on Saturday. Credit score: NASA TV/Spaceflight Now

NASA astronauts Josh Casado and Frank Rubio headed close to the Worldwide House Station on Saturday for a seven-hour spacewalk to put in and deploy a brand new deployable photo voltaic array just lately delivered by a SpaceX cargo ship.

Casado and Rubio, each of their first spaceflights, started their spacewalk on Saturday at 7:16 a.m. EST (12:16 GMT). The official begin of the tour was marked when the astronauts switched their spacesuits to battery energy.

Astronauts moved from the Quest area station’s hatch to starboard, or proper, of the lab’s solar energy farm, the place the station’s robotic arm positioned two new ISS Roll-Out Photo voltaic Array, or iROSA, models earlier this week after eradicating them from the trunk of a SpaceX cargo capsule Dragon. The Dragon spacecraft delivered the photo voltaic panels to the area station on November 27, together with a number of tons of supplies and experiments.

The brand new blankets of photo voltaic cells had been wrapped round coils and unfurled like a yoga mat, as soon as mounted on a mounting bracket on Starboard 4, or S4, the area station’s energy farm part, which is greater than the size of a soccer area finish to finish. to the tip.

Initially, the astronauts labored to take away one of many two newly delivered iROSA models from its provider by loosening the bolts and restraining the launch. Casada took a place on a leg restraint on the finish of a Canadian-made robotic arm and held the photo voltaic coil by hand whereas the arm moved it towards the S4 truss.

Two astronauts positioned the iROSA unit on a mounting bracket pre-positioned in the course of the earlier spacewalk. They deployed the iROSA unit on a hinge, then put in bolts to safe it in place. Cassada and Rubio mixed electrical connectors to attach the brand new iROSA unit to the area station’s electrical system. They then related a Y-cable to direct the vitality generated by each the brand new deployable photo voltaic cell and the unique S4 photo voltaic panel into the lab’s energy grid.

On this photograph, NASA astronauts Josh Casado (left) and Frank Rubio (proper) put together for a spacewalk close to the Worldwide House Station on Nov. 15. Photograph credit score: NASA

A mounting bracket connects the brand new arrays to the station’s energy ducts and swivel joints that maintain the photo voltaic wings pointed on the solar because the spacecraft races round Earth at greater than 17,000 miles per hour.

The Worldwide House Station has eight energy channels, every of which is powered by electrical energy generated from a single photo voltaic array wing that extends from the station’s spine. The brand new photo voltaic array deployed on Saturday will produce electrical energy for the area station’s 3A energy channel.

The unique photo voltaic panels had been launched throughout 4 area shuttle missions between 2000 and 2009. As anticipated, the effectivity of the station’s authentic photo voltaic panels has deteriorated over time. NASA is upgrading the area station’s energy system with new retractable photo voltaic arrays — at a price of $103 million — that may partially cowl six of the station’s authentic eight photo voltaic panels.

When all six iROSA models are deployed on the station, the ability system will likely be able to producing 215 kilowatts of electrical energy to assist at the least one other ten years of science operations. The improve will even accommodate new business modules which are deliberate to be launched to the area station.

The primary pair of recent retractable photo voltaic arrays had been launched to the area station final 12 months and had been put in above the station’s oldest set of authentic photo voltaic panels on truss part P6, situated on the far left finish of the outpost’s energy truss. Two extra iROSA pods are scheduled to launch on SpaceX’s resupply mission subsequent 12 months.

The brand new photo voltaic panels had been equipped by NASA Boeing, Redwire and a bunch of subcontractors.

After the brand new iROSA unit was mechanically and electrically built-in into the station’s S4 truss, the astronauts launched the clamps that held the photo voltaic cell to the coil within the launch configuration. This allowed the blankets to step by step deploy, harnessing the pressure vitality within the composite rods that assist the photo voltaic blanket. The design of the deployment mechanism eliminates the necessity for motors to drive the photo voltaic array.

“He is beginning to transfer,” one of many astronauts radioed management, prompting applause from the assist group in Houston.

“It is unbelievable,” Casada mentioned. “Yeah, that is fairly cool,” Rubio interjected.

Every of the brand new iROSA wings will likely be tilted at a 10-degree angle relative to the area station’s current photo voltaic panels. Credit score: NASA

The carbon fiber assist booms had been untwisted in opposition to their pure form for storage throughout launch.

It took about 10 minutes for the photo voltaic array to deploy to its totally prolonged configuration, stretching about 63 toes lengthy and 20 toes extensive (19 by 6 meters). It’s about half the size and half the width of the station’s present photo voltaic panels. Regardless of their smaller dimension, every of the brand new arrays produces roughly the identical quantity of electrical energy as every of the station’s current photo voltaic panels.

After the blanket was deployed, the astronauts adjusted the strain bolts to safe the iROSA blanket in place.

The astronauts then headed again aboard the area station truss to arrange one other iROSA unit to be put in on the left part of the P4 truss in the course of the spacewalk tentatively scheduled for December 19.

After finishing their duties, Casada and Rubio returned to the Quest’s airlock and closed the hatch. They started depressurizing the airlolk compartment at 14:21 EST (1921 GMT), finishing a 7 hour 5 minute spacewalk.

Saturday’s spacewalk was the second of Casada’s and Rubio’s careers and the 256th spacewalk since 1998 in assist of constructing and sustaining the Worldwide House Station.

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Observe Stephen Clarke on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

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