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NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and European Space Agency (ESA) Thomas Pesquet finished their spacewalk upgrade of the international space station, by installing the new iROSA deployment solar panels.

The duration of the spacewalk was to last six and a half hours and ended up totaling seven hours and fifteen minutes, with the astronauts using their battery-powered suits to traverse outside the station.

It cost about $ 100 million to install the six arrays, which were produced by U.S. manufacturer and space infrastructure technology company Redwire Space, Inc. The arrays have a capacity of 120 kW and will increase power generation. of the station from 20 to 30%.

The previous arrays were designed for a 15-year lifespan, but had been operating continuously since December 2000. Although they were performing well, the older arrays were showing signs of degradation.

Before the new grid can begin delivering power, astronauts will need to run electrical cables and drive in the last two bolts, allowing the panels to unfold into the deployed position. This will take place on June 20e, and can be viewed live on the NASA website.

This is the third spacewalk that Kimbrough and Pesquet have conducted in tandem, following two expeditions in 2017 in which astronauts replaced the laboratory’s nickel-hydrogen batteries in orbit with new lithium-ion batteries.

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