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Astronaut on spacewalk prepares station for new solar wing



Astronauts on the spacewalk ventured on Sunday to install supports for the new high-efficiency solar panels that will arrive at the International Space Station later this year.

NASA’s Kate Rubins and Victor Glover came out of the lab on the orbit. They were 8-foot (2.5-meter) duffel bags filled with hundreds of pounds of installation Brackets and pillars. The equipment is so large and clumsy that it must be disassembled like furniture in order to pass through the hatch.

“We know it is too tight,” the mission control department broadcasted.

In this image taken from NASA's videotape, NASA astronauts Kate Rubins and Victor Glover work outside the International Space Station on Sunday, February 28, 2021. Arrived at the International Space Station later this year.  (National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) passed AP)

In this image taken from NASA’s videotape, NASA astronauts Kate Rubins and Victor Glover work outside the International Space Station on Sunday, February 28, 2021. Arrived at the International Space Station later this year. (National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) passed AP)

The astronaut headed to the distant port of the station with an unusually large load, being careful not to hit anything. That is where the station’s oldest and most degraded solar wing is located.

Using a cordless electric drill, Glover quickly began to assemble the struts into triangles, and then Rubens bolted the completed parts to the space station.

According to NASA, as more people and experiments fly on the space station, more power will be needed to keep everything running. Six new solar panels (to be delivered in pairs by SpaceX in the next year or so) will increase the station’s electrical capacity by as much as 30%.

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Rubin and Glover must assemble and fix the pillars of the first two solar panels, which will be launched in June.

Now, the eight solar panels there have been in use for 12 to 20 years, most of which have exceeded their design life and are still deteriorating. Each panel is 112 feet (34 meters) long and 39 feet (12 meters) wide. The center frame is carefully calculated, each pair extends 240 feet (73 meters), which is longer than the Boeing 777’s wingspan.

Boeing is supplying new coils, which are about half the size of the old ones, but they are equally powerful thanks to the latest solar cell technology. They will be placed at an angle above the old angle and will continue to run.

The prototype was tested on the space station in 2017.

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The views of Rubens’ new high-definition helmet camera are breathtaking, especially those that present a vivid blue earth 270 miles (435 kilometers) below. “Excellent,” Mission Control observed.

Sunday’s spacewalk is the third spacewalk carried out by infectious disease expert Rubin and naval pilot Glover, and both of them may eventually fly to the moon.

They are one of the 18 astronauts newly assigned to NASA’s Artemis moon landing program. The next moonwalker will come from this group.

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Last week, Vice President Kamala Harris congratulated Glover, who was the first African-American astronaut to live full-time on the space station. NASA released a video exchange on Saturday.

Harris said: “The history you have done makes us proud of you.” Like other firsts, Glover replied that this will not be the last. He said: “We want to make sure that we can continue to do new things.”

On Friday, Rubin will withdraw with Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi (Soichi Noguchi) to end preparations for solar panels, and to discharge and relocate ammonia coolant hoses.

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Glover and Noguchi were among the four astronauts who arrived via SpaceX in November. Rubin was launched from Kazakhstan in October with two Russians. They all plan to return to Earth this spring.


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