Take 2: Space Travel Astronauts Install New Solar Panel


Space Travel Astronauts Install Powerful New Solar Panel Outside the International Space Station

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla .– Space-marching astronauts outfitted the International Space Station with the first in a series of powerful new solar panels on Sunday, overcoming suit issues and other obstacles with strength and perseverance.

It took two spacewalks for French astronaut Thomas Pesquet and NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough to install and deploy the panel to its full length (19 meters).

The Solar Wing unfolded like a red carpet once the last set of bolts were released, relying solely on the energy that had been built up. The slow but steady expansion took 10 minutes, with the station’s cameras providing live TV views.

“It’s beautiful,” cried Pesquet.

“Well done to you both,” Mission Control replied after the operation was complete. “It was great to see.”

At the end of the 6.5-hour spacewalk, Kimbrough, who has three children, wished “Happy Father’s Day” to all the flight controller dads. “Thanks for working with us on a Sunday. “

The astronauts began Sunday’s spacewalk by picking up where they left off on Wednesday, when a series of issues prevented them from unrolling the high-tech solar panel.

“Remember: you are butterflies with biceps today,” astronaut Megan McArthur said over the radio from inside.

After pushing and pulling, the astronauts managed to unfold and align the solar panel so that the two halves are now end to end, resembling a roll of paper towels. Their cry of “Woo-hoo!” Was applauded at Mission Control.

The two had to wait until they were back on the night side of Earth – and the station’s old solar panels were no longer absorbing sunlight and producing electricity – before making the final electrical hookups. Otherwise, they might be shocked.

While waiting for darkness, the camera and light assembly of Kimbrough’s helmet came loose, even though he had changed his suit to avoid the issues he faced last time around. Pesquet did his best to secure it with metal ties, as the minutes passed. His efforts paid off and the last step – the actual deployment – went off without a hitch.

This new solar wing – along with five more to come – will give the aging station a much needed electric boost, as the demand for experiences and space tourists increases.

NASA initially allocated two spacewalks for work – one for each solar panel being installed. But managers have added a third spacewalk, given all the previous issues. Pesquet and Kimbrough will leave on Friday to complete work on the second panel delivered by Space X earlier this month.

This first pair will complete the space station’s oldest solar wings, which deteriorate after 20 years of continuous operation.

SpaceX will deliver two more pairs over the next year.

Although smaller than the originals, the new solar panels supplied by Boeing can generate much more energy. The space station needs this revitalization if NASA is to hope the space station will operate for the remainder of this decade, with private guests paying millions of dollars to get on board.

A Russian film crew is due to be launched this fall to the outpost orbiting Kazakhstan, followed by a string of wealthy businessmen. SpaceX provides the Cape Canaveral rides.

Kimbrough’s suit’s display control panel turned off on Wednesday and he had to return to the airlock to reset it. Then his cooling system recorded a momentary pressure surge. Engineers are always evaluating what went wrong.

“Space is tough,” Kimbrough tweeted last week.


The Associated Press’s Department of Health and Science receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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