NASA Astronauts Complete Spacewalk to Prep for Space Station Solar Array Upgrades

NASA Astronaut Josh Cassada Enters Airlock

NASA Astronaut Josh Cassada enters the airlock at the end of Tuesday’s spacewalk to prepare the station for upcoming solar array upgrades. Credit: NASA TV

NASA astronauts Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio of NASA concluded their spacewalk at 4:25 p.m. EST (1:25 p.m. PST), yesterday, November 15, after 7 hours and 11 minutes in preparation for the upcoming solar array installation.

Expedition 68 Flight Engineers Cassada and Rubio completed the majority of the primary objectives for the spacewalk, which included assembling a mounting bracket on the starboard side of the station’s truss assembly in preparation for the installation of a pair of International Space Station Rollout Solar Arrays (iROSAs).

The pair completed the routing of cables on the 3A power channel, and began the installation process of a modification kit on the 1B power channel, which will act as a scaffolding for the new solar arrays. Some planned tasks associated with the completion of the modification kit, including the installation of collars, and the routing of cables for the 1B power channel, were deferred by the crew.

This remaining work will be completed during a future spacewalk prior to the arrival of the solar arrays for the 1B power channel. No changes are planned for the next two upcoming U.S. spacewalks.

It was the 254th spacewalk in support of space station assembly, upgrades, and maintenance, and was the first spacewalk for both astronauts. Cassada and Rubio are in the midst of a planned six-month science mission living and working aboard the microgravity laboratory. Their goal is to advance scientific knowledge and demonstrate new technologies for future human and robotic exploration missions, including lunar missions through NASA’s Artemis program.

The next two U.S. spacewalks are scheduled on Tuesday, November 29, and Saturday, December 3. On November 29, two astronauts will install an iROSA for the 3A power channel. On December 3, a pair of astronauts will install an iROSA on the port truss for the 4A power channel. These will be the third and fourth iROSAs out of a total of six planned for installation. The iROSAs will increase power generation capability by up to 30%, increasing the station’s total available power from 160 kilowatts to up to 215 kilowatts.

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