Cape Canaveral, Florida. (AP) – Space walk astronauts It went out on Sunday to install the support frames for a new high-efficiency Solar Panels Arrival to the international Space station Later this year.
NASA’s Kate Robins and Victor Glover walk out of the orbiting lab pulling out 8-foot (2.5-meter)-style raincoat bags stuffed with hundreds of pounds of mounting braces and supports. The equipment was so large and confusing that it had to be disassembled like furniture, just to slip through the hatch.
“We know it’s very, very tight out there,” Mission Control Radio said.
The astronauts, with their unusually large payload, steered to the side of the station’s far port, being careful not to collide with anything. This is where the station’s oldest and most degraded solar wings are located.
Soon Glover began placing the struts together in a triangle shape, using a cordless electric drill, and Robins attached the completed piece to the space station.
With more people and experiments on the space station, more energy will be required to keep everything running, according to NASA. The six new solar panels – to be delivered in pairs by SpaceX over the next year or so – should boost the plant’s electrical capacity by up to 30%.
Robins and Glover had to assemble and install the struts for the first two solar panels, scheduled for launch in June.
The eight solar panels out there now have a life span of 12 to 20 years – most of them are past their lifespan and are designed in decline. Each board is 112 feet (34 meters) long and 39 feet (12 meters) wide. Tip to note when calculating the centerframe, each pair extends 240 feet (73 meters), longer than the wings of a Boeing 777.
Boeing supplies new foldable panels, which are about half the size of old panels but are just as strong thanks to the latest solar cell technology. It will be placed at a higher angle than the old one, which will continue to work.
A prototype was tested at the space station in 2017.
The views from Robins’ new, high-resolution helmet camera were stunning, especially one that shows the bright blue Earth 270 miles (435 kilometers) below. “Pretty cool,” the Control Center noted.
Sunday’s spacewalk was the third for infectious disease specialist Robins and Navy pilot Glover – both of whom could end up flying to the moon.
They are among 18 astronauts newly assigned to NASA’s Artemis Lunar Landing Program. Coming moon astronauts will come from this group.
Last week, Vice President Kamala Harris extended a congratulatory invitation to Glover, the first African-American astronaut to live full time on the space station. NASA released the video exchange on Saturday.
Harris said: “The date you make, we’re proud of you.” Glover answered, like other early adopters, would not be the last. “We want to make sure that we can keep doing new things,” he said.
Robins will float up again on Friday with Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi to finish preparatory work for solar panels, and to breathe and transport ammonia cooling hoses.
Glover and Noguchi were among four astronauts who arrived via SpaceX in November. Robins were released from Kazakhstan in October along with two Russians. They are all set to return to Earth this spring.