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NASA Spacewalk Sets Stage for Future Solar Power Systems

by Brandon Williams
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By Richard Tew, NASA correspondent for The Post Newspaper

Last Friday morning, NASA sent two astronauts, members of Expedition 68, out for a spacewalk on the International Space Station (ISS) to install hardware for future solar power systems and to perform other system upgrades.

At a recent press conference at JSC, Operations Integration Manager for the International Space Station Program Dina Contella discussed work on the ISS including Friday’s spacewalk. She also highlighted several planned upgrades for future work on the space station.

These upgrades consist of a series of platform strut installations to the ISS to prep it for new International Space Station Roll-Out Solar Arrays (iROSAs). To date, four iROSAs have been installed with the addition of two more planned for installation on future spacewalks.

Friday’s spacewalk saw astronaut Koichi Wakata serve as extravehicular (EVA) crew member 1 (EV 1) and NASA astronaut Nicole Mann, as EVA crew member 2 (EV 2). Both performed their first spacewalks on the ISS. Wakata is from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

Mann and Wakata installed platform struts which will be used in the future to anchor iROSASs which will be attached to the starboard side of the ISS’s truss.  Additional work was tightening of bolts on other previously-installed struts, and the installation of a cable which would allow astronauts the ability to route power around if a power box were to fail on the truss. The upgrades to the 24-year-old space station took just over seven hours to complete.  

“This is really just about getting ourselves set up to receive these solar arrays,” said Space Flight Director Chloe Mehring.

At the press conference, Lead Flight Officer Keith Johnson discussed other benefits of the spacewalk.

“It’s always a pleasure when we get to send out rookie crew members like we get to on this particular spacewalk. It’s especially good because now all of Crew 5 will have EVA experience, which I think it is a remarkable accomplishment,” said Johnson.

An audio version of this story can be found here: https://soundcloud.com/richard-tew/spacewalk-story-audio?si=8aeca2dbbb124bbda6f864d85e599c9b&utm_source=clipboard&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=social_sharing

When he is not covering NASA news, Richard teaches Irish dance to all ages in Clear Lake, learn more at http://www.tew-academy.org.  

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