From Solar Arrays to Spacesuits: Busy Week Aboard the International Space Station

Spacewalker Stephen Bowen Works To Release a Roll-Out Solar Array

NASA astronaut and Expedition 69 Flight Engineer Stephen Bowen is pictured working to release a stowed roll-out solar array attached to the International Space Station’s starboard truss structure during a six-hour and three-minute spacewalk on June 9, 2023. Credit: NASA

During a busy week at the International Space Station, NASA astronauts completed a spacewalk to install the sixth solar array, boosting the station’s power capacity by 30%. They also prepared for an upcoming spacewalk to take place next week, which will involve hardware replacement and maintenance. Other activities included cargo management, spacesuit maintenance, medical scans, and station reboost in preparation for the arrival of a resupply mission.

The International Space Station (ISS) residents are going into the weekend following a busy week of spacewalk activities. The Expedition 69 crew members finished one spacewalk this week and are gearing up for another one next week.

NASA astronauts Woody Hoburg and Stephen Bowen completed installing the orbital outpost’s sixth roll-out solar array during a spacewalk on Thursday. The pair spent five hours and 35 minutes in the vacuum of space completing the installation job. On June 9, Hoburg and Bowen installed the other roll-out solar array that was delivered inside the SpaceX Dragon cargo vehicle on June 6. The very first roll-out solar array was installed exactly two years ago on June 16, 2021, by Expedition 65 spacewalkers Shane Kimbrough of NASA and Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency). With the six roll-out solar arrays installed and activated the station’s power-generating capacity has been increased by about 30%.

Spacewalker Woody Hoburg Takes an Out-of-This-World “Space-Selfie”

NASA astronaut and Expedition 68 Flight Engineer Woody Hoburg points the camera toward himself and takes an out-of-this-world “space-selfie” during a six-hour and three-minute spacewalk to install a roll-out solar array on the International Space Station’s truss structure on June 9, 2023. Credit: NASA

Hoburg and Bowen were joined at midday on Friday by Flight Engineers Frank Rubio of NASA and Sultan Alneyadi of UAE (United Arab Emirates) for a conference with mission controllers to discuss the previous day’s spacewalk. The standard post-spacewalk debriefing saw the quartet discuss experiences and issues they may have encountered to inform future spacewalks.

The four astronauts also had time for other tasks at the end of the week. Bowen, Hoburg, and Alneyadi took turns transferring cargo in and out of the Dragon cargo vehicle. Alneyadi also recharged water tanks inside spacesuits. Rubio had his eyes scanned with the Ultrasound 2 device with remote guidance from doctors on the ground.

The next spacewalk at the orbital outpost is scheduled to take place on Thursday, June 22, when Commander Sergey Prokopyev and Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin will exit the Poisk airlock. The duo has been spending the week reviewing procedures and readying spacesuits for next week’s planned seven-hour spacewalk. The two cosmonauts will go on their fifth spacewalk together to replace Roscosmos science and communications hardware and then photograph the condition of the Zvezda service module.

Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev started Friday collecting data from radiation sensors that Hoburg and Bowen wore during their spacewalk. Afterward, he spent the rest of the day servicing a carbon dioxide removal device inside the Zvezda service module and cleaning vent screens in the Zarya module.

The space station is orbiting slightly higher after the 83P fired its engines for 13 minutes on Friday. The orbital reboost raises the station to the correct altitude for the upcoming docking of the ISS Progress 84 resupply mission.

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