Solar Array Installation at a Space Station by NASA and ESA

Solar panels are powering the spacewalks of astronauts for the first time at the International Space Station.

Astronauts Shane Kimbrough from NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and Thomas Pesquet from ESA (European Space Agency) completed the deployment of a new ISS Roll-Out Solar Array (iROSA) on the far end of the left (port) side of the station’s backbone truss structure.

The first set of the 60-foot-long roll-out solar arrays has successfully been deployed as the space station soared over the United States, NASA tweeted. The spacewalk lasted six hours and 26 minutes for installing the first of a set of new roll-out solar arrays. 

Astronauts Kimbrough and Pesquet successfully unfolded the solar array, bolted it into place and connected cables to the station’s power supply to complete deployment. Additionally, the astronauts removed and stowed hardware in preparation for releasing the second iROSA from the flight support structure for installation. The pair will work towards the second solar array upgrade during another spacewalk tentatively scheduled for June 25.

NASA will go live on June 25, Friday at 6:30 a.m. for the coverage of ISS Expedition 65 U.S. Spacewalk to Install the Second IROSA Solar Array on the P6 Truss for the 4B Channel Power System. The spacewalk is likely to last for around six-and-a-half hours where astronauts Pesquet and Kimbrough will install the second set of roll-out arrays on ISS. 

Solar arrays soak up the energy of the sun to provide electrical power for the numerous research and science investigations conducted every day as well as the continued operations of the orbiting platform. 

To ensure that a sufficient power supply is maintained for NASA’s exploration technology demonstrations for Artemis and beyond, as well as utilization and commercialization, NASA will be augmenting six of the eight existing power channels of the space station with new solar arrays. Boeing, NASA’s prime contractor for space station operations, its subsidiary Spectrolab, and major supplier Deployable Space Systems (DSS) are providing the solar arrays. 

Each solar array will produce more than 20 kilowatts (KWs) of electricity, eventually totaling 120 KWs of augmented power during orbital daytime. In addition, the remaining uncovered solar array pair and partially uncovered original arrays will continue to generate approximately 95 KWs of power for a total of upto 215 KWs of power available to support station operations upon completion. 

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Bhoomika Singh

Bhoomika is a science graduate, with a strong interest in seeing how technology can impact the environment. She loves covering the intersection of technology, environment, and the positive impact it can have on the world accordingly.

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