Meir, Koch Complete Battery Swaps to Upgrade Station Power Systems

NASA astronaut Jessica Meir enters the Quest airlock
NASA astronaut Jessica Meir enters the Quest airlock to complete a spacewalk after swapping batteries on the International Space Station that store and distribute solar power collected for the solar arrays.

At 1:33 p.m. EST, Expedition 61 Flight Engineers Jessica Meir and Christina Koch of NASA concluded their third spacewalk together. During the six hour and 58-minute spacewalk, the two NASA astronauts successfully completed the battery upgrade for one channel on one pair of the station’s solar arrays.

Today’s work included removing the last two nickel-hydrogen batteries from this area of the station’s backbone near the port solar array and moving them to an external platform. The batteries will be stored there until they can be disposed of in the next Japanese HTV cargo spacecraft after it delivers tons of supplies to the space station later this year. Meir and Koch also installed the sixth and final new lithium-ion battery, and ground controllers verified the new batteries powered up successfully to provide an improved and more efficient power capacity for station operations.

The spacewalkers concluded their work by paying tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Meir said he was a personal hero and looking down on planet Earth reminded her of his words: “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.” Koch noted how much is owed to those who worked for civil rights and inclusion and “paved the way for not only us, but so many who have a dream.”

This was the second spacewalk outside the station in 2020. Space station crew members have now conducted 226 spacewalks in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory. Spacewalkers have spent a total of 59 days, 6 hours, and 10 minutes working outside the station. It is the third time all spacewalkers have been women and the 45th spacewalk to include women.

NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan and space station Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) will conduct the next spacewalk Saturday, Jan. 25, to finish installing the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer’s (AMS) new cooling apparatus and lines and verify they are ready for use. Morgan and Parmitano began that work during three spacewalks in November and December 2019.

Today’s spacewalk was the third for Meir, who now has spent a total of 21 hours and 44 minutes spacewalking, and the sixth for Koch for a total of 42 hours and 15 minutes. Koch is third place behind Peggy Whitson and Suni Williams for cumulative time by a female spacewalker and 21st on the all-time spacewalk list for aggregate time.

Koch arrived to the orbiting laboratory in March 2019 and is nearing the end of an extended duration mission. She holds the record for longest single spaceflight by a woman and will return to Earth on Feb. 6. Her extended mission provides researchers the opportunity to observe effects of long-duration spaceflight on a woman to prepare for human missions to the Moon and Mars. Meir arrived in Sept. 2019 and is due to return in April.

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.

Meir, Koch Working In Vacuum of Space to Swap Station Batteries

NASA astronauts Jessica Meir (left) and Christina Koch
NASA astronauts Jessica Meir (left) and Christina Koch are pictured preparing for their first spacewalk together on Oct. 18, 2019.

Two NASA astronauts switched their spacesuits to battery power this morning at 6:35 a.m. EST to begin today’s spacewalk. Expedition 61 Flight Engineers Jessica Meir and Christina Koch are entering into the vacuum of space for about six-and-a-half-hours to finish replacing nickel-hydrogen batteries with new lithium-ion batteries that store and distribute power generated by the station’s solar arrays on the station’s port truss. The lithium-ion batteries provide an improved power capacity for operations with a lighter mass and a smaller volume than the nickel-hydrogen batteries.

Watch the spacewalk on NASA TV and on the agency’s website.

Meir is designated extravehicular crew member 1 (EV 1), wearing the suit with red stripes, and with helmet camera #11. Koch is designated extravehicular crew member 2 (EV 2), wearing the suit with no stripes, and her helmet camera is labeled #18.

Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) and NASA Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan will assist the spacewalkers. Parmitano will control the Canadarm2 robotics arm and Morgan will provide airlock and spacesuit support.

The primary tasks for the spacewalkers after preparing their worksite will be to complete the replacement of older batteries on the far port truss of the station by removing the last two nickel-hydrogen batteries from that truss’ power system and installing a sixth and final new lithium-ion battery.

The astronauts are expected to tackle a number of additional tasks, if time permits, including the removal of lens filters from a pair of cameras on the station’s exterior.

NASA TV Broadcasts Monday Spacewalk With Jessica Meir and Christina Koch

NASA astronauts Jessica Meir (left) and Christina Koch
NASA astronauts Jessica Meir (left) and Christina Koch are pictured preparing for their first spacewalk together on Oct. 18, 2019.

Expedition 61 Flight Engineers Jessica Meir and Christina Koch of NASA are scheduled to begin a spacewalk outside of the International Space Station at 6:50 a.m. EST Monday, Jan. 20.

Live coverage of the spacewalk will begin at 5:30 a.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

This is the second of two battery replacement spacewalks in five days to complete the upgrade of batteries that store and distribute power generated by the station’s solar arrays on the station’s port truss. Meir and Koch will replace nickel-hydrogen batteries with newer, more powerful lithium-ion batteries for the power channel on one pair of the station’s solar arrays.

The batteries were transported to the station in September aboard the Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle. The spacewalking work continues the overall upgrade of the station’s power system that began with similar battery replacement during spacewalks in January 2017.

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.

Nutrition Studies, Spacewalk Preps Ahead of SpaceX Crew Escape Test

NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir
NASA astronauts Christina Koch (left) and Jessica Meir work on their U.S. spacesuits

The Expedition 61 crew split its time today between upcoming spacewalk preparations and continuous microgravity research. SpaceX is also preparing for a final test of its commercial crew ship before it launches humans.

The International Space Station is bustling with activity as two astronauts keep their U.S. spacesuits ready for another spacewalk set for Monday at 6:50 a.m. EST. NASA Flight Engineers Jessica Meir and Christina Koch will wrap up installing new lithium-ion batteries upgrading the orbiting lab’s power systems. NASA TV will start its live coverage at 5:30 a.m.

The spacewalking duo also had time for science work in their busy schedule today. Koch provided inputs on how spaceflight is impacting her cognition and documented her meals for a nutrition study. Meir also documented her nutritional intake before researching how flames spread in space.

Andrew Morgan of NASA worked on a secondary nutrition study that may produce vitamins and dietary supplements to support future long-term missions. Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) had hearing checks today then moved on with Morgan to support Monday’s spacewalkers.

Flight Engineer Alexander Skvortsov of Roscosmos spent the day researching ways to maintain sterile conditions while conducting biotechnology experiments in space. Fellow cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka serviced combustion research gear and Earth observation hardware before exploring crew behavior.

The Commercial Crew Program is set for a critical milestone as SpaceX readies its Dragon crew ship for major test. The uncrewed Crew Dragon vehicle will blast off atop a Falcon 9 rocket on Saturday at 8 a.m. and demonstrate its ability to safely escape in the event of a launch failure.

Astronauts Stay Focused on Spacewalks and Keep Science Running

NASA astronaut Christina Koch is pictured working in the vacuum of space
NASA astronaut Christina Koch is pictured working in the vacuum of space 265 miles above the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Africa during a spacewalk on Jan. 15.

The Expedition 61 crew is fresh off the first spacewalk of 2020 and preparing for two more before the end of the month. Meanwhile, the International Space Station residents continue ongoing microgravity research and life support maintenance.

NASA spacewalkers Jessica Meir and Christina Koch successfully installed two new lithium-ion batteries on Wednesday that store and distribute power collected from solar arrays on the station’s Port-6 truss structure. They will finish the battery replacement work during another six-and-a-half-hour spacewalk scheduled for Monday at 6:50 a.m. EST. NASA TV begins its live coverage of the spacewalk activities at 5:30 a.m.

The third spacewalk is planned for Jan. 25 with astronauts Andrew Morgan and Luca Parmitano. They will finish the complex thermal repair work they began last year on the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, an astrophysics device searching for evidence of antimatter and dark matter.

All four astronauts met in the afternoon and called down to Mission Control for a briefing with spacewalk specialists. The quartet had a routine discussion with the engineers about spacewalking gear and procedures.

On the Russian side of the orbiting lab, the two veteran cosmonauts worked back and forth on space science and the upkeep of the space station. Alexander Skvortsov spent a portion of his day on cell biology research before servicing an exercise cycle. Oleg Skripochka checked out a variety of hardware that detects micrometeoroid impacts on the station and observes natural catastrophes on Earth.

Astronauts Wrap Up First Spacewalk of 2020

NASA astronaut Jessica Meir enters the Quest airlock
NASA astronaut Jessica Meir enters the Quest airlock to complete a spacewalk after swapping batteries that store and distribute solar power collected from the solar arrays on the International Space Station.

At 2:04 p.m. EST, Expedition 61 Flight Engineers Christina Koch and Jessica Meir of NASA concluded their spacewalk. During the 7-hour, 29-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. Meir and Koch are scheduled to venture outside the station again Monday, Jan. 20, for a second battery replacement spacewalk.

The astronauts were also able to accomplish a get-ahead task of relocating the an additional nickel-hydrogen battery to the external pallet in preparation for next week’s spacewalk.

This was the first spacewalk outside the station this year. Space station crew members have now conducted 225 spacewalks in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory. Spacewalkers have spent a total of 58 days, 23 hours, and 12 minutes working outside the station. It is the second time all spacewalkers have been women and the 44th spacewalk to include women.

It was the second spacewalk for Meir, who now has spent a total of 14 hours and 46 minutes spacewalking, and the fifth for Koch for a total of 35 hours and 17 minutes.

Koch arrived to the orbiting laboratory in March 2019 and marked 300 days in space on Jan. 9. She currently holds the record for longest single spaceflight by a woman and will return to Earth on Feb. 6 from an extended duration mission of 11 months in space. Her extended missions provides researchers the opportunity to observe effects of long-duration spaceflight on a woman to prepare for human missions to the Moon and Mars. Meir arrived in Sept. 2019 and is due to return in April.

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.

Spacewalkers Begin Work to Upgrade Power Systems

Astronauts Christina Koch (left) and Jessica Meir
Astronauts Christina Koch (left) and Jessica Meir pose for their official NASA portraits.

Two NASA astronauts switched their spacesuits to battery power this morning at 6:35 a.m. EST Expedition 61 Flight Engineers Christina Koch and Jessica Meir are venturing out into the vacuum of space for about six-and-a-half hours to finish replacing nickel-hydrogen batteries with new lithium-ion batteries that store and distribute power generated by the station’s solar arrays on the station’s port truss. The lithium-ion batteries provide an improved power capacity for operations with a lighter mass and a smaller volume than the nickel-hydrogen batteries.

Watch the spacewalk on NASA TV and on the agency’s website.

Meir is designated extravehicular crew member 1 (EV 1), wearing the suit with red stripes, and with helmet camera #11. Koch is designated extravehicular crew member 2 (EV 2), wearing the suit with no stripes, and her helmet camera is labeled #18.

Commander Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan will assist the spacewalkers. Morgan will control the Canadarm2 robotics arm and Parmitano will provide airlock and spacesuit support.

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.

NASA TV Goes Live Wednesday for First Spacewalk of 2020

Spacewalkers Christina Koch and Jessica Meir
Spacewalkers Christina Koch and Jessica Meir are pictured during their first spacewalk together that lasted seven hours and 17 minutes on Oct. 18, 2019..

Expedition 61 Flight Engineers Christina Koch and Jessica Meir of NASA will begin a spacewalk outside of the International Space Station Wednesday, Jan. 15.

Live coverage of the spacewalk will begin at 5:30 a.m. EST on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

This is the first of two battery replacement spacewalks this month. Meir and Koch will replace nickel-hydrogen batteries with newer, more powerful lithium-ion batteries for the power channel on one pair of the station’s solar arrays. The batteries were transported to the station in September aboard the Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle.

The spacewalking work continues the overall upgrade of the station’s power system that began with similar battery replacement during spacewalks in January 2017. In October, Koch and Meir replaced a failed power charging component, also known as a battery charge-discharge unit (BCDU). The BCDU regulates the charge to the batteries that collect and distribute solar power to the orbiting lab’s systems.

Watch the animation for more detail on this spacewalk.

Follow @space_station on Twitter for updates online. For more information about the International Space Station, visit www.nasa.gov/station.

Crew Ready for Spacewalk While Working Earth and Fire Research

NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina KochNASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch
NASA astronauts Jessica Meir (left) and Christina Koch are pictured preparing to begin the historic first-ever all-female spacewalk on Oct. 18, 2019.

The first of three spacewalks planned for January begins Wednesday to continue upgrading International Space Station power systems and a cosmic ray detector. While the spacewalkers ready their suits and tools, the rest of the Expedition 61 crew is on science and maintenance duty today.

NASA Flight Engineer Jessica Meir is partnering for a second time with fellow NASA astronaut Christina Koch for a pair of spacewalks set for tomorrow and Jan. 20. The duo is finalizing preparations for the two six-and-a-half hour spacewalks to replace batteries that store and distribute solar power. They will set their U.S. spacesuits to internal power at 6:50 a.m. and translate out to the Port-6 truss structure. Once there they swap out old nickel-hydrogen batteries with new lithium-ion batteries. NASA TV begins its live coverage Wednesday at 5:30 a.m. EST.

A third spacewalk is planned for Jan. 25 with NASA Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan and Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency). They will finish the thermal repair work on the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer they began last year.

Meanwhile, Morgan and Parmitano were on science duty today. The astronauts took turns safely burning fabric and acrylic samples to help scientists understand how flames spread in space. Results may inform the design of fire safety products and procedures on Earth and in space. The two crewmates also drew their blood samples, spinning them in a centrifuge for later analysis.

Cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov spent the day servicing Russian life support equipment. On the science schedule, cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka continued setting up and testing hardware that will observe the Earth’s mesosphere at different wavelengths.

Astronauts Eye Wednesday Spacewalk as Space Science Continues

NASA astronauts (from left) Christina Koch and Jessica Meir
NASA astronauts (from left) Christina Koch and Jessica Meir collect biological samples for stowage inside the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship.

The first spacewalk of 2020 is set for Wednesday and the Expedition 61 crew is finalizing spacesuit checks and procedure reviews. The residents aboard the International Space Station also had time set aside for more microgravity research today.

NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch are preparing to step outside into the vacuum of space together in their U.S. spacesuits. The duo will replace old nickel-hydrogen batteries with newer, more powerful lithium-ion batteries upgrading station power systems on the Port-6 truss structure. NASA TV begins its live coverage Wednesday at 5:30 a.m. EST with the six-and-a-half hour spacewalk set to begin at 6:50 a.m.

Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) and NASA Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan joined the spacewalkers today to review spacewalk procedures. The two astronauts will stay inside the station on Wednesday to provide Canadarm2 robotics support for Meir and Koch.

Parmitano and Morgan also juggled a variety of science and life support duties today. Morgan worked on orbital plumbing tasks before studying how flames spread in weightlessness. Parmitano cleaned cell science hardware and updated supplies in the Human Research Facility-1.

Cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov investigated how microgravity affects blood circulation in order to maintain crew health during long-term space missions. Cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka set up hardware to observe a layer of the Earth’s upper atmosphere called the mesosphere at different wavelengths.