The spacewalk is underway to arrange the ISS for brand new solar panels – KTVI Fox 2 St. Louis

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Posted: Mar 5, 2021 / 10:46 AM CST
Updated: March 5, 2021 / 10:52 AM CST

APE CANAVERAL, Florida (AP) – For the second time this week, two astronauts hovered outside the door on Friday to prepare the International Space Station for new solar panels.

NASA's Kate Rubins and Japan's Soichi Noguchi made their way to the unfinished work from Sunday's spacewalk, which is at the other end of the orbit lab. You had to finish assembling the mounting brackets and struts and tighten some sticky screws.

The equipment will support the first set of upgraded solar panels, due to arrive in June.

NASA is upgrading the space station's power grid to accommodate more astronauts and experiments, now that SpaceX is launching crews, and Boeing should be by the end of the year. The eight solar panels up there have deteriorated over time; The oldest were launched 20 years ago.

The six new solar wings – smaller but more efficient – fit over the older ones and increase the station's performance by up to 30%. Boeing is supplying the panels that SpaceX will launch in pairs over the next year.

During Sunday's spacewalk, Rubins and NASA astronaut Victor Glover came across a number of stubborn bolts preventing them from completing the support facility.

NASA decided that the work that was left was more important than the other chores scheduled for Friday's spacewalk, which was venting and rearranging hoses for ammonia coolant. Future spacewalkers will deal with this.

The final spacewalk should be the last for the station's current residents, whose half-yearly missions are coming to an end.

Rubins will return to Earth with two Russians in a Russian capsule in mid-April. Noguchi, Glover, and two other NASA astronauts will fly SpaceX back in late April or May.

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