Solar Power in Space: Astronauts Conclude Historic Power Boosting Spacewalk

Spacewalkers Work Orbital Sunrise

The Earth begins illuminating during an orbital sunrise as spacewalkers (lower right) Sultan Alneyadi and Stephen Bowen work outside the space station. Credit: NASA TV

NASA’s Steve Bowen and UAE’s Sultan Alneyadi successfully completed a 7-hour spacewalk to prepare for the installation of new solar arrays on the ISS. Despite a delayed operation to free a degraded communications antenna, the mission marked the 261st spacewalk for the ISS and a first for a UAE astronaut. The astronauts are halfway through a six-month mission to advance space exploration technologies.

NASA astronaut Steve Bowen and UAE (United Arab Emirates) astronaut Sultan Alneyadi concluded their spacewalk at 4:12 p.m. EDT on April 28 after 7 hours and 1 minute. The spacewalk to prepare for future installation of upgraded solar arrays on the starboard side of the station’s truss began at 9:11 a.m. EDT.

Bowen and Alneyadi laid cables and installed insulation on mounting brackets on the starboard truss of the station for the installation of the next pair of International Space Station Roll Out Solar Arrays (iROSAs). The astronauts were unable to free up an electronics box located on the truss associated with a degraded S-band communications antenna. The antenna removal was deferred to a future spacewalk ahead of its planned return to Earth.

Stephen Bowen and Sultan Alneyadi

Astronauts (from left) Stephen Bowen and Sultan Alneyadi try on and test out the their spacesuits ahead of a spacewalk planned for Friday, April 28. Credit: NASA

The installation is part of a series of spacewalks to augment the International Space Station’s power channels with new International Space Station Roll-Out Solar Arrays (iROSAs). Four iROSAs have been installed so far, and two more will be mounted to the platforms installed during this spacewalk in the future.

It was the 261st spacewalk in support of space station assembly, upgrades, and maintenance, the eighth spacewalk for Bowen, and the first for any UAE astronaut.

Bowen and Alneyadi are in the midst of a planned six-month science mission living and working aboard the microgravity laboratory to advance scientific knowledge and demonstrate new technologies for future human and robotic exploration missions, including lunar missions through NASA’s Artemis program.

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