U.S., Japanese Astronauts Conclude Solar Array Mods Spacewalk

(From left) Astronauts Kate Rubins and Soichi Noguchi work to install a solar array modification kit during the fourth spacewalk of both of their careers. Credit: NASA
(From left) Astronauts Soichi Noguchi and Kate Rubins work to install a solar array modification kit during the fourth spacewalk of 2021. Credit: NASA

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi concluded their spacewalk at 1:33 p.m. EST, after 6 hours and 56 minutes. In the fourth spacewalk of the year outside the International Space Station, the two astronauts successfully completed the installation of modification kits required for upcoming solar array upgrades.

The duo worked near the farthest set of existing solar arrays on the station’s left (port) side, known as P6, to install a modification kit on solar array 4B and reconfigure the modification kit on 2B, completing tasks that were started during the Feb. 28 spacewalk.

Due to time constraints, the secondary tasks of troubleshooting the Columbus Parking Position (PAPOS) Interface and removing and replacing a Wireless Video System External Transceivers Assembly (WETA) were deferred to a later spacewalk. The astronauts did, however, complete an additional task of relocating an Articulating Portable Foot Restraint (APFR).

NASA is augmenting six of the eight existing power channels of the space station with new solar arrays, which will be delivered on SpaceX’s 22nd commercial resupply services mission. The new solar arrays, a larger version of the Roll-Out Solar Array (ROSA) technology, will be positioned in front of six of the current arrays, ultimately increasing the station’s total available power from 160 kilowatts to up to 215 kilowatts and ensuring sufficient power supply for NASA’s exploration technology demonstrations for Artemis and beyond. The current solar arrays are functioning well but have begun to show signs of degradation, as expected, as they were designed for a 15-year service life.

This was the fourth career spacewalk for both Rubins and Noguchi. Rubins has now spent a total of 26 hours and 46 minutes spacewalking. Noguchi now has spent a total of 27 hours and 1 minute spacewalking.

Space station crew members have conducted 236 spacewalks in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory. Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 61 days, 21 hours and 7 minutes working outside the station.

Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog, @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

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