Spacewalking Astronauts Complete First Round Of Prep Work For New Solar Panels – CBS Miami
CAPE CANAVERAL (CBSMiami) – Two space travel astronauts completed the first round of prep work for new solar panels on Friday, part of a major performance upgrade on the International Space Station.
Kate Rubins of NASA and Soichi Noguchi of Japan installed mounting brackets and struts for the upgraded solar wings, due to arrive in June. They also tightened some sticky screws that hindered the spacewalk on Sunday and didn’t do some chores.
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Towards the end of the seven-hour spacewalk, Rubins reported a mark on the index finger of her right glove where she had previously said something was peeling and possibly a tiny hole in the outer layer.
“I don’t know what to think of the glove. But it’s just a kind of pinpoint hole, ”she told Mission Control.
Rubins said she was “slightly concerned” about being too far from Noguchi because of her glove, and he escorted her back to the hatch. Mission Control called it finished at that point and asked the astronauts to skip additional tasks.
Astronauts Kate Rubins and Soichi Noguchi completed their space walk today at 1:33 p.m. (CET) after 6 hours and 56 minutes and successfully installed modification kits for solar systems. More… https://t.co/QNG7Q2e6EQ pic.twitter.com/JksZ9HZNrU
– International Space Station (@Space_Station) March 5, 2021
Rob Navias, a NASA spokesman at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, said Rubins’ suit pressure was kept perfect throughout the spacewalk.
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“At no point was she in danger,” he said in an email.
At Mission Control’s request, crewmate Victor Glover took photos of the glove while Rubins was still in her spacesuit.
NASA is expanding 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 too. The eight solar panels 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.
When the spacewalk ended, Mission Control congratulated Noguchi on the longest gap between spacewalks: 15 1/2 years. His last three spacewalks took place in 2005 during the first shuttle flight after the 2003 Columbia disaster.
This should be the final spacewalk 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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(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)