NASA astronauts complete multi-year project to upgrade batteries on the ISS

NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins works on the P4 truss during the first spacewalk of 2021. During their second spacewalk he and astronaut Victor Glover worked to finish a battery upgrade project that was started four years ago. Credit NASA

Astronauts Mike Hopkins and Victor Glover put the finishing touches on this newest lithium-ion battery to complete a series of spacewalks that began in 2017. Only a couple of days ago, on January 27, the 233rd spacewalk took place. That included seeing Hopkins removing another H-fixture on the S4 truss while Glover pre-positioned several foot-restraints to support spacewalks focusing on future solar array upgrades.

"Mike Hopkins is wearing the spacesuit with red stripes and Victor Glover Jr has no stripes".

What's So Special With The Spacewalk?

In the second spacewalk of the year, the two NASA astronauts completed work to replace batteries that provide power for the station's solar arrays and upgrade several of the station's external cameras.

The massive, boxy batteries, each exceeding 180 kilograms, supply the orbital lab with electricity while it's on Earth's night side.

The upgrade took longer than expected after one of the new batteries failed following its installation two years ago and had to be replaced.

The primary power system of the space station uses nickel-hydrogen batteries in the past.

NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins and Victor Glover, both members of the seven-person Expedition 64 crew, ventured outside the space station's Quest airlock at 7:56 a.m. EST (12:56 UTC) Feb. 1, 2021, for U.S. Extravehicular Activity 70. With the battery work complete, the focus turns to solar array augmentation.

NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins right and Victor Glover right seen in their spacesuits before the first spacewalk of 2021. NASA astronaut Kate Rubins in the black shirt worked with Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi in the red shirt assisted the spacew

In addition to battery function, Mr. Hopkins and Mr. Glover mounted a new camera outside the station's Japanese lab, called Kibo, or Hope in English, in the US Destiny lab and removed parts of the camera device.

The second mission will carry two NASA astronauts, together with one each from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, JAXA, and European Space Agency, ESA. Two more spacewalks will be led in about a month to prepare for extra sun powered boards set for conveyance not long from now.

Changing batteries in space needs careful planning and training.

The International Space Station orbits Earth around 17,500 miles per hour and it passes between sunlight and darkness every 45 minutes. Only 24 more-efficient lithium-ion batteries were needed.

According to BGR, any journeys beyond the space station culminated in more work being completed than was expected, which is always the case for spacewalks. Others were often short, eventually forcing subsequent spacewalks to make up for the missed time. That stored power is necessary to keep everything working on the ISS, including the station's life support systems. Whenever it's in direct sunshine, the ISS absorbs a lot of strength from the Sun.

Today's mission marks the 234th spacewalk in total, supporting the ISS's ever-evolving assembly, maintenance and vital upgrades.

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