NASA astronauts Woody Hoburg and Steve Bowen on Thursday upgraded the International Space Station’s power supply by installing a new roll-out solar array.
Hoburg and Bowen, flight engineers on Expedition 69, completed their spacewalk just before 2:30 p.m. EDT, after 5 hours and 35 minutes.
Their main objective, per NASA, was to install an ISS Roll-Out Array, or IROSA, to augment power generation for the 1B power channel on the station’s starboard truss structure.
Arrays are collections of solar panels wired together to capture sunlight and produce power for the space station. The ISS unfurled its first IROSA in 2017 with a robotic arm.
According to NASA, the IROSA can be deployed and retracted like a tape measure.
IROSA’s are generally lighter and use energy more efficiently than ISS Solar array wings. Since its debut, NASA has been installing IROSA’s through a series of spacewalks. The new arrays augment the existing power supply and restore power to previous levels when the original arrays were installed.
The array installed Thursday is 60 feet by 20 feet wide, shading a little more than half of the original array. Each new IROSA produces more than 20 kilowatts of electricity and together enables a 30% increase in power production over the station’s current arrays.
The latest installation marked the 265th spacewalk in support of space station assembly, upgrades and maintenance, NASA said.
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