On Friday (20), astronauts Nicole Mann and Koichi Wakata performed the first spacewalk of the year. Over more than seven hours of extravehicular activity, they worked on installing support structures for new solar panels on the International Space Station (ISS).
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- Astronauts prepare ISS for new solar array on nearly 7-hour spacewalk
The spacewalk ended at 5:35 pm, Brasilia time. During the work, Mann and Wakata managed to advance in the procedure already started in other spacewalks, focused on the installation of a platform that will receive a new set of International Space Station Roll-Out Solar Arrays (iROSAs) solar panels.
The new panels will increase the power supply to the orbiting laboratory. So far, the station’s astronauts have installed four of the total six that will integrate the ISS systems; when all are in operation, the station’s energy production will increase by up to 30%.
Originally, they were also going to install a necessary structure for a second platform, which will receive solar panels focused on the station’s 1A power channel. However, due to time constraints, this task has been postponed to a future spacewalk, and will not affect ISS operations.
The pair of astronauts arrived at the space station in October through the Crew-5 mission, accompanied by John Cassada, from NASA, and cosmonaut Anna Kikina. Mann, a NASA astronaut and the first indigenous woman to go into space, was on her first spacewalk.
Wakata, from the Japanese space agency JAXA, has already served on five missions, but this was also his first spacewalk. This was the 258th spacewalk ever undertaken to maintain and upgrade the International Space Station.