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NASA completes spacewalk to finish power system upgrades
by Paul Brinkmann
Washington DC (UPI) Feb 1, 2021

Two NASA astronauts completed a major upgrade to the orbiting platform's power systems and other tasks during a spacewalk on Monday.

The project began at 6:56 a.m. EST and lasted for five hours and 20 minutes. The expedition was the second spacewalk in five days for Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover.

"You guys had a great day. You guys rocked it," astronaut Bob Hines said from ground control in Houston as the spacewalk concluded.

The two installed a final piece of hardware to complete a years-long project that replaced aging nickel-hydrogen batteries with newer, more powerful lithium-ion batteries. The batteries store power from the space station's eight 112-foot-long solar arrays.

One of the batteries had failed after it was installed during a previous NASA spacewalk, so Hopkins and Glover had to wrap up that part of the job on Monday.

"The astronauts moved smoothly through their tasks -- first securing the final lithium-ion battery to the International Space Station and installing the final adapter plate, connecting that battery and cleaning the power circuit. That completes the power work that began in January 2017 updating the batteries aboard the International Space Station," a NASA announcer said during the live broadcast.

Glover had been attached to the orbiting platform's Canadarm during much of the spacewalk, while Hopkins was tethered to handrails on the exterior.

Starting around 9:30 a.m. the pair worked to replace high-definition cameras on the space station exterior and to route Ethernet cables for those cameras. They also installed a camera on the robotic arm for the Japanese-built Kibo science laboratory.

Having accomplished all their scheduled tasks by midday, the pair also had tackled some additional jobs to prepare for the next spacewalk.

Hopkins and Glover launched from Florida to the space station aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience spacecraft, the first space capsule in history to carry four people.

NASA plans to send Glover and astronaut Kate Rubins on another spacewalk in the near future. They will prepare power systems for the installation of new solar arrays to augment the station's existing power supply.

"I think one thing we're learning as we continue to evolve a space station is that we're getting more and more commercial users coming to the station," said Kenny Todd, NASA's deputy program manager for the space station, in a press conference Jan. 22.

"The solar arrays are really at the heart of being able to keep the station alive and make sure that we can supply power as we get more and more users on board."

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The crew on the International Space Station (ISS) has faced unique challenges while producing a new virtual reality documentary although factors such as weightlessness have also provided an advantage, Russian cosmonaut and ISS engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov told Sputnik. In December, Russia's Space Agency Roscosmos announced it is producing a documentary series - together with Canada's Felix and Paul Studios - called "Space Explorers: The ISS Experience," in a virtual reality format. The studio sai ... read more

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