Astronauts Gearing Up for Today’s Spacewalk To Upgrade ISS Power System

Expedition 68 Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata Spacewalk

Expedition 68 Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is pictured in his Extravehicular Mobility Unit, or spacesuit, during his second spacewalk on February 2, 2023. He and fellow spacewalker Nicole Mann (out of frame) of NASA installed a modification kit on the International Space Station’s starboard truss structure that will enable the future installation of the orbiting lab’s next roll-out solar array. Credit: NASA

Four astronauts from Expedition 69 are preparing for a spacewalk to upgrade the ISS’s power system by installing a solar array, which arrived via the SpaceX Dragon vehicle. Simultaneously, three cosmonauts are conducting heart and plasma research, and ensuring the station’s operational efficiency.

Four Expedition 69 astronauts are making final preparations ahead of today’s spacewalk to continue upgrading the International Space Station’s power generation system. Meanwhile, the orbital outpost’s three cosmonauts focused on heart research and plasma physics while ensuring station systems remain in tip-top shape.

NASA Flight Engineers Stephen Bowen and Woody Hoburg are scheduled to set their Extravehicular Mobility Units (EMUs), or spacesuits, to battery power at 9:15 a.m. EDT on Friday officially beginning a spacewalk to install a roll-out solar array on the station’s starboard truss structure. Ahead of the spacewalk, the duo staged their EMUs and spacewalking tools inside the Quest airlock where they will exit the station into the vacuum of space. The two astronauts were also joined by Flight Engineers Frank Rubio of NASA and Sultan Alneyadi of UAE (United Arab Emirates) for a final review of their spacewalking tasks and robotic support procedures. Rubio and Alneyadi will assist Bowen and Hoburg from inside the station on Friday.

NASA Astronauts Woody Hoburg, Frank Rubio, and Stephen Bowen

Expedition 69 Flight Engineers Woody Hoburg, Frank Rubio, and Stephen Bowen, all from NASA, gather inside the International Space Station’s Destiny laboratory module and speak to U.S. elementary and junior high school students on Earth. Credit: NASA

The roll-out solar arrays arrived on Tuesday after the SpaceX Dragon cargo vehicle docked to the orbital lab following its Monday launch. Ground engineers on Wednesday remotely commanded the Canadarm2 robotic arm to remove the solar arrays from Dragon’s unpressurized trunk and attach them to a pallet on the starboard truss in preparation for Friday’s installation spacewalk.

On the Roscosmos side of the space station, Commander Sergey Prokopyev and Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin partnered together for a long-running study into the effects of weightlessness on the human heart. Prokopyev later disconnected hardware that supported a plasma study that explores electrically-charged micro-particles such as electrons, ions, and neutral gases. Petelin investigated ways to improve communications with international crews and mission controllers from around the world. Flight Engineer Andrey Fedyaev worked throughout the day on computer and power systems maintenance.

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