WASHINGTON, BM – Astronauts Shane Kimbrough (NASA) and Thomas Pesquet (ESA) will spend nearly 6.5 hours in outer space today to continue installing new roll-up solar arrays on the International Space Station (ISS). Their work begins June 20 at 6:30 a.m. EDT (10:30 UTC, 11:30 BST, 13:30 EEST).
The installation of the two new solar arrays began on Wednesday (June 16th) but was accompanied by technical problems, the removal of which extended the duration of their planned stay in outer space.
The two new ISS roll-up solar arrays or iROSA arrived on the International Space Station last week through the delivery of cargo from SpaceX Cargo Dragon. They are manufactured by the American company Redwire Space, which uses Boeing technology for solar cells. The two new roll-up solar arrays should give more power to the space station, as the old solar arrays are very outdated – almost 20 years old. The two new ISS will receive an additional nearly 120 kilowatts during the day. For reference – the eight old solar arrays currently generate a total of about 160 kilowatts per day.
The new roll-up solar arrays are essentially large blankets with more than 9,000 solar cells on each one attached to carbon composite boom arms.
NASA and partners in the International Space Station program plan to gradually upgrade the solar energy systems that power the space station. In the coming months, at least four more iROSAs will be delivered to ISS and start their installation. According to NASA, the installation will always be performed on two iROSAs simultaneously. The next pair of iROSA is planning to be installed in the spring of next year (2022).
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