NASA Astronauts Gear Up for Spacewalks to Replace Space Station Batteries

Expedition 36 Flight Engineer Chris Cassidy

Expedition 36 Flight Engineer Chris Cassidy is pictured on July 9, 2013, during a six-hour, seven-minute spacewalk at the space station. Credit: NASA

Two spacewalks are set to continue upgrading power systems at the International Space Station at the end of the month. The Expedition 63 crew is getting ready for the summer excursions while also researching a variety of space phenomena to benefit Earth and space industries.

Two NASA astronauts will exit the orbital lab on June 26 and July 1 to continue replacing batteries that store and distribute power collected from the solar arrays. They will work on the outer portion of the truss structure, or the Starboard-6 truss, disconnecting and removing the old nickel-hydrogen batteries. Following that, new lithium-ion batteries will be installed in their place and powered up by mission controllers on the ground.

The two spacewalkers are following up on the battery swap work that began last year and continued into January. The complex repair job has been taking place on both the starboard and port sides of the station’s truss structure. That is where the basketball court-sized solar arrays are located. The solar arrays slowly rotate around the truss structure and track the sun but are locked into place during the spacewalks.

Station Commander Chris Cassidy and Flight Engineer Bob Behnken spent the morning resizing U.S. spacesuits before splitting up for a variety of science activities. Cassidy spent the rest of the day configuring the new Spectrum imager that will view the cellular growth of plants in multiple wavelengths. Behnken continued more space bubbles research to promote advanced oxygen and medicine delivery systems.

NASA Flight Engineer Doug Hurley started Thursday on life support maintenance before continuing to unpack Japan’s HTV-9 resupply ship in the afternoon. The two cosmonauts, Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, spread out in the station’s Russian segment focusing on life support maintenance, window inspections, and Earth atmospheric studies.

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