Astronauts take spacewalk to swap space station's batteries

24 March, 2019, 23:08 | Author: Dwayne Harmon
  • Ricky Arnold NASA spacewalk

The work is delicate and demanding, and they have to do it all in zero gravity, making for a very special kind of entertainment.

The 12 nickel-hydrogen batteries on the inboard starboard 4, or S4, truss segment powering electrical channels 1A and 3A were replaced by six lithium-ion batteries during spacewalks in January 2017.

Additional batteries will be replaced as part of this power upgrade over the next couple of years as new batteries are delivered to station, according to NASA. McClain and astronaut Christina Koch are tasked with doing the upgrades, marking the first time a spacewalk will be conducted by only women. They will also install cables to provide for more expansive wireless communications coverage outside the orbital complex, as well as for enhanced hardwired computer network capability.

Friday's spacewalk is the first of three planned excursions to replace batteries and perform other maintenance. Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 55 days, 21 hours and 39 minutes working outside the station. Both spacewalks will be livestreamed on NASA's website.

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The live show can be watched on NASA Live. Hague is designated extravehicular crew member 2 (EV 2), wearing the suit with no stripes, and with helmet camera #17.

Flight controllers remotely operating the station's robot arm had already removed four of the older nickel-hydrogen batteries and installed three of the new lithium-ion batteries in slots one, three and five. The batteries were transported to the station in September aboard the Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle.

McClain and Koch will continue the work on March 29, swapping out more of the old batteries for new ones and connecting them to the station's power system.

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