Spacewalkers Complete Battery Swaps for Station Power Upgrades

Spacewalkers Nick Hague and Anne McClain
NASA astronauts Nick Hague (top) and Anne McClain work to swap batteries in the Port-4 truss structure during today’s spacewalk.

Expedition 59 Flight Engineers Nick Hague and Anne McClain of NASA concluded their spacewalk at 2:40 p.m. EDT. During the six-hour, 39-minute spacewalk, the two NASA astronauts successfully replaced nickel-hydrogen batteries with newer, more powerful lithium-ion batteries for the power channel on one pair of the station’s solar arrays.

Astronauts were also able to accomplish several get-ahead tasks including removing debris from outside of the station, securing a tieback for restraints on the Solar Array Blanket Box, and photographing a bag of tools for contingency repairs and the airlock thermal cover that is opened and closed for spacewalks.

These new batteries provide an improved power capacity for operations with a lighter mass and a smaller volume than the nickel-hydrogen batteries. Next week, McClain and flight engineer Christina Koch are scheduled to venture outside on the March 29 spacewalk to work on a second set of battery replacements on a different power channel in the same area of the station. This would be the first-ever spacewalk with all-female spacewalkers.

Hague and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency are scheduled to conduct a third spacewalk April 8 to lay out jumper cables between the Unity module and the S0 truss, at the midpoint of the station’s backbone. This work will establish a redundant path of power to the Canadian-built robotic arm, known as Canadarm2. They also will install cables to provide for more expansive wireless communications coverage outside the orbital complex, as well as for enhanced hardwired computer network capability.

Space station crew members have conducted 214 spacewalks in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory. This was the first spacewalk for both McClain and Hague. Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 55 days, 21 hours and 39 minutes working outside the station.

Keep up with the crew aboard the International Space Station on the agency’s blog, follow @ISS on Instagram, and @space_station on Twitter.

33 thoughts on “Spacewalkers Complete Battery Swaps for Station Power Upgrades”

  1. Dear Mark,

    How long can an astronaut, in this type of space walk, last without refueling for Oxygen?

    Kind regards

    Akli

    1. Recharge not refuel.
      I cannot remember which EVA it was, but one astronaut was over exerting and used up a large amount of oxygen. They went into the airlock between task to recharge.

  2. I’m just curious. What debri would be found outside and on the space station? But to be able to walk outside would be an experience like no other. Congrats to all countries involved to make this work.

  3. Two questions dealing with inherent dangers of working and living in space:
    1) What steps have been taken to insure that these lithium-ion packages are fire-safe?
    2) While space-walks are exciting (and astronauts may actually enjoy them), why weren’t design accommodations made for replacing these batteries from INSIDE the ISS?

    1. • The lithium-ion batteries designed for use on the International Space Station are built in an enclosure designed to contain any potential fire.
      • NASA has performed tests to understand the risks associated with batteries and has rigorous controls in place to limit potential hazards from lithium-ion batteries.
      • The space station’s batteries also have extensive control systems on them that monitor the individual lithium-ion cells and ensure they are performing safely within limits.

  4. Understandably, the newer batteries are lighter. But, in zero-gravity, is that any advantage? Also, Rechargable Lithium-Ion’s are known to have a much less amount of recharge cycles. (1200 vs. the original Nickel-Hydrogen’s 20,000?) And lastly, aren’t they known to be much more capable of overheating and potential explosion during charging?

    1. • The lithium-ion batteries designed for use on the International Space Station are built in an enclosure designed to contain any potential fire.
      • NASA has performed tests to understand the risks associated with batteries and has rigorous controls in place to limit potential hazards from lithium-ion batteries.
      • The space station’s batteries also have extensive control systems on them that monitor the individual lithium-ion cells and ensure they are performing safely within limits.

  5. Still amazes me what we are capable of when we put our mind to it. March 29th wil be an awesome day. Stay safe.

    1. Spacewalkers have a drink bag in their suit they can sip from with a helmet. Astronauts do not take showers but instead wash themselves with damp cloths to conserve water and prevent water from splashing everywhere due to the lack of gravity.

  6. I just read a story that said two women would be involved in the space walk. Was that not correct or was there a change?

  7. what are the debris as described in space ! huge congrats. To all scientist and the states involved in the mission .

  8. Personally, I think we need to re-launch lunar exploration now that space tech has improved, maybe have a woman leave her mark. Look perhaps at working long-term (or perhaps living) on the Moon.

    Our astronauts from all over this beautiful planet have done a WONDERFUL job with all their work from the dawn of the Space Age. Look at where we were to where we are. None of this would have been possible without cooperation (not only within our own country, but others as well).

    Thank you, astronauts, wherever you all are (and to those we have lost). Please keep up your amazing work in the name of humanity.

    -Kat

  9. What is the spacesuits glove thickness? Also how do they harness them selves so the can counter the motion due to the forces they apply while working?

    1. The spacesuit has two other sets of gloves that astronauts can use. Comfort Gloves are worn under the EVA glove and aid EVA glove donning, doffing and wicking away perspiration. They provide some additional thermal protection. Adjustable Thermal Mittens provide added protection in extreme temperature environments.

      Thermofoil heaters are attached inside each of the fingertips in one of the layers of the glove. The heaters are located approximately over each of the crew member’s fingernails. The heaters have an on-off switch near each of the gloves’ wrists.

      The spacewalkers are tethered to the space station at all times. Their spacesuits have jet packs they can use to maneuver back to the station in the unlikely event they become untethered.

  10. Hi! Mark. Have never spoken to an Astronaut especially whilst in Space… I have always had an interest in the Space Program. My question is…on Re-entry, is it a tense time for the crew and does it put lots of pressure on the Capsule? Does the Apollo 13. Movie portray this as the way re-entry actually happens? Thank-you.

  11. What do they do with the old batteries? Can you just give them a shove in the direction of the Earth and let them burn up on reentry?

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