Astronauts install a new solar cell outside the International Space Station - Spaceflight Now

Astronauts set up a brand new photo voltaic cell outdoors the Worldwide House Station – Spaceflight Now

NASA astronaut Josh Cassada, sporting the red-striped house go well with, holds the ISS Roll-Out Photo voltaic Array as he rides the house station’s robotic arm on Saturday. Credit score: NASA TV/Spaceflight Now

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

Cassada and Rubio, each on their first flights to house, started the spacewalk at 7:16 a.m. EST (1216 GMT) Saturday. The beginning of the tour was formally marked when the astronauts modified their spacesuits to battery energy.

The astronauts moved from the house station’s Quest airlock to the starboard or starboard facet of the lab’s photo voltaic truss, the place the station’s robotic arm positioned two new ISS Roll-Out Photo voltaic Array, or iROSA, models earlier this week after extracting them from the trunk of a SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule. The Dragon spacecraft delivered the photo voltaic panels to the house station on November 27, together with a number of tons of provides and experiments.

The brand new photo voltaic blankets have been wrapped round coils and unrolled like a yoga mat as soon as put in on a mounting bracket on the starboard 4, or S4, part of the house station’s energy chair, which measures greater than the size of a soccer area end-to-end.

The astronauts initially labored to take away one of many two newly delivered iROSA models from its service by releasing bolts and immobilizers. Taking place on a footrest on the finish of the Canadian-built robotic arm, Cassada held the photo voltaic panel coils by hand because the arm moved him to the S4 truss.

The 2 spacewalkers positioned the iROSA machine on a mounting bracket that had been pre-positioned throughout a earlier spacewalk. They flipped the iROSA unit onto its hinges after which put in bolts to safe it in place. Cassada and Rubio related electrical connectors to hyperlink the brand new iROSA machine to the house station’s electrical system. Then they inserted a Y-cable to conduct energy generated by each the brand new photo voltaic panel rollout and the unique S4 photo voltaic panel to the lab’s grid.

On this photograph, NASA astronauts Josh Cassada (left) and Frank Rubio (proper) put together for a spacewalk outdoors the Worldwide House Station on Nov. 15. Credit score: NASA

The mounting bracket connects the brand new arrays to the station’s energy ducts and rotary joints, which preserve the photo voltaic wings pointed on the solar because the spacecraft races round Earth at greater than 17,000 mph.

The Worldwide House Station has eight energy channels, every fed with electrical energy generated from a photo voltaic array wing that extends from the station’s truss backbone. The brand new photo voltaic array deployed Saturday will produce electrical energy for the house station’s 3A energy channel.

The unique photo voltaic panels have been launched on 4 house shuttles from 2000 to 2009. As anticipated, the effectivity of the station’s authentic photo voltaic panels has degraded over time. NASA is upgrading the house station’s energy system with the brand new photo voltaic panels — at a value of $103 million — that can 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 be capable of generate 215 kilowatts of electrical energy to assist no less than one other decade of science operations. The improve will even accommodate new business modules deliberate for launch to the house station.

The primary pair of recent deployable photo voltaic panels have been launched to the house station final 12 months and have been put in over the station’s oldest set of authentic photo voltaic panels on the P6 truss part, positioned on the far left of the outpost’s energy truss. Two extra iROSA models are scheduled to launch on a SpaceX resupply mission subsequent 12 months.

The brand new photo voltaic panels have been provided to NASA by Boeing, Redwire and a staff of subcontractors.

As soon as the brand new iROSA unit was mechanically and electrically built-in onto the station’s S4 truss, the astronauts launched clamps that held the unrolled photo voltaic panel coiled into its launch configuration. This allowed the blankets to be step by step unrolled utilizing rigidity power within the composite beams that supported the photo voltaic blanket. The design of the deployment mechanism eliminates the necessity for motors to drive the photo voltaic panel.

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

“It is unbelievable,” Cassada mentioned. “Yeah, it is fairly cool,” Rubio chimed in.

Every of the brand new iROSA wings can be tilted at an angle of 10 levels relative to the house station’s current photo voltaic arrays. Credit score: NASA

The carbon fiber assist booms have been rolled again to their pure form for storage throughout launch.

It took about 10 minutes for the photo voltaic panel to roll out to its absolutely prolonged configuration, which stretched about 63 ft lengthy and 20 ft extensive (19 x 6 meters). That is roughly half the size and half the width of the station’s present photo voltaic panels. Regardless of their smaller measurement, every of the brand new arrays generates about the identical quantity of electrical energy as every of the station’s current photo voltaic panels.

As soon as the blanket was deployed, the astronauts adjusted rigidity bolts to safe the iROSA blanket in place.

The astronauts then returned aboard the house station truss to organize one other iROSA unit, which can be put in on the left facet P4 truss part on a spacewalk tentatively scheduled for December 19.

With their duties accomplished, Cassada and Rubio made their method again to the Quest airlock and closed the hatch. They started pressurizing the airlock compartment at 14:21 EST (1921 GMT), finishing the 7 hour 5 minute spacewalk.

Saturday’s spacewalk was the second of Cassada’s and Rubio’s careers, and the 256th spacewalk since 1998 in assist of meeting and upkeep of the Worldwide House Station.

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Comply with Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

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