Yesterday (Jan. 6th), NASA astronauts Peggy Whitson and Shane Kimbrough could be watched as they conducted the first of two spacewalks outside the International Space Station to upgrade the electric power system of the orbital outpost.
These spacewalks are all part of the ISS power upgrade that has been occurring this month. The major objective of today’s spacewalk is the replacement of the large nickel-hydrogen batteries the station currently uses, with more efficient and reliable lithium-ion batteries.
During one interview, Shane Kimbrough explains that the batteries that are currently being used have been out there for a majority of the duration of the ISS, some of which haven’t been changed in more than a decade.
The battery replacement is no easy process. The replacement began on December 31st, with a series of robotic operations. The robotics are incredibly helpful, even reducing the number of spacewalks from 6 to 2. The Dexterous Manipulator (Dextre) robot arm located outside the station began to remove the batteries and adapters from the HTV-6 Cargo Spacecraft, which delivered supplies and equipment to the ISS earlier in December.
Yesterday around 7 a.m EST, Kimbrough and Whitson exited out through NASA’s Quest airlock to continue their battery replacement operation. This process took an estimated 6.5 hours to complete, which was covered live until 2 p.m. EST.
The coverage of the spacewalk can be viewed below.
Kimbrough will head out once again on Friday, January 13th. For this second spacewalk, Kimbrough will be joined by Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency.
Yesterday marked Kimbrough’s third spacewalk. For Whitson, yesterday was her seventh spacewalk, putting her tied with NASA astronaut Suni Williams for the record of most spacewalks made by a female.