During an astronaut space walk on Friday, a new solar system unrolls in front of the International Space Station. Photo courtesy NASA
ORLANDO, Fla., June 26 (UPI) – Two astronauts completed a spacewalk in front of the International Space Station on Friday and installed a second of six new solar panels that will add power to the orbiting laboratory.
Shane Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet left the space station around 8 a.m. EDT. They successfully assembled and rolled a 60 foot long solar array known as the iROSA or International Space Station Roll-Out Solar Array. The spacewalk ended after 6 hours and 45 minutes.
“It looks great and we get good power from the solar panels, so we have a lot of happy faces down here. Well done you two! ”Spacewalk communicator and Canadian astronaut Jenni Sidey said while monitoring the event from Houston during the spacewalk.
Kimbrough is a NASA astronaut who completed his ninth spacewalk on Friday, while Pesquet, a French astronaut with the European Space Agency, completed his fifth spacewalk.
During part of the installation, Pesquet was strapped to the end of a robotic crane, the Canadarm2, while NASA astronaut Megan MacArthur steered the arm from inside the space station.
“Pesquet is being moved away from this point now, and he will come out of the ankle cuff and then return to Kimbrough … the spacewalk.”
Installing such massive equipment, even in zero gravity, requires the use of the Canadarm2 to anchor astronauts during their work.
The solar cells reached the space station on June 5th in a SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule, the company's 22nd mission of its kind.
The new iROSA solar arrays will complement massive existing arrays on the ward.
NASA designed the existing solar systems for a service life of 15 years. They have been in service for 20 years now and are degrading, the space agency said.