NASA astronauts have ventured out on their second spacewalk in a week, completing a mission to update the International Space Station’s power grid.
Astronauts Mike Hopkins and Victor Glover successfully installed the final part of one last lithium-ion battery in the modernisation effort, which began in 2017.
Flight controllers in Houston had used the space station’s big robot arm to replace the last remaining pair of old-style batteriesCredit: Twitter
A 3D illustration of International Space Station Orbiting EarthCredit: Getty Images – Getty
“Beautiful day. Let’s go for a walk outside,” Mission Control radioed, as the spacewalk got underway.
According to reports from NBC Boston, flight controllers in Houston had used the space station’s big robot arm over the weekend to replace the last remaining pair of old-style batteries with a single, better-quality one.
Despite a late start, Hopkins and Glover completed the battery work in under an hour, leaving the space station equipped with 24 lithium-ion batteries which would store power collected by the solar panels.
The big, boxy batteries weighed more than 400 pounds, or 180 kilograms each, and would provide electricity for the orbiting lab when it was on the night side of earth.
The batteries were so powerful that only half as many were needed as the old nickel-hydrogen batteries they replaced.
“BEAUTIFUL DAY,” MISSION CONTROL RADIOED
The speedy finish to the mission was welcome following earlier delays to the upgrade; it took longer than expected after one of the new batteries failed two years after installation and needed replacing.
Fourteen spacewalks in total were needed to complete the battery work, which NASA expected to last the rest of the space station’s operating life.
Hopkins and Glover also installed a new camera on the U.S. Destiny lab during the spacewalk, as well as replacing parts in the camera system outside the station’s Japanese lab.
This was named Kibo, which translated to Hope in English.
The pair, both from the US, were also hard at work last Wednesday, when they embarked on their first spacewalk together since arriving at the space station on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Resilience spacecraft in November.
According to Space.com reports, the astronauts made improvements to the European lab during this venture.
Today’s spacewalk was fourth spacewalk of Hopkin’s career, and the second for Glover.
Seven astronauts were currently residing on the space station; four Americans, two Russians and one Japanese.
Two further spacewalks were scheduled in, for about a month’s time, to prepare the station for the addition of solar panels set out for delivery later this year.
The old-style batteries were replaced with a single, better-quality oneCredit: Twitter
NASA astronaut Victor Glover makes his way to the International Space Station’s European lab last weekCredit: AP:Associated Press