Story at a glance
- Astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet traveled to the ISS to install new solar arrays on the vessel.
- This is the eighth spacewalk of 2021.
- Solar arrays have been powering the ISS since December 2000.
Astronauts with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the European Space Agency (ESA) successfully planted solar panels outside of the International Space Station (ISS) over the weekend.
This was conducted during the eighth spacewalk of 2021. Two astronauts, Shane Kimbrough of NASA and Thomas Pesquet of the ESA, spent nearly six and a half hours installing a new ISS Solar Array (iROSA) at the left side of the station.
The solar array itself is composed of a series of panels designed to power ISS operations for 15 years and was first installed in December 2000.
— International Space Station (@Space_Station) June 20, 2021
Kimbrough and Pesquet installed new iROSA equipment to upgrade the current hardware already installed. While inserting the new array, the astronauts also removed the older models.
The agency estimates that the combination of eight larger arrays working with small, more efficient new arrays will provide a 20 to 30 percent increase in available power for the ISS.
The new iROSA equipment will be capable of producing 120 kilowatts of power during daytime.
NASA is currently working to overhaul and upgrade six of the eight power channels on the ISS with new solar arrays to keep the station functioning. Both astronauts will prepare for a second trip to do the same replacement, slated to occur on June 25.