Japanese and European astronauts install solar panel supports for the international space station to upgrade the power supply system


Tencent technology news on September 14, the two astronauts stationed on the international space station completed the latest spacewalk on Sunday, US local time, to help install the solar panel support required to upgrade the power system.
The spacewalk was completed by Akihiko hoshide of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Thomas pesquet, a French astronaut of the European Space Agency (ESA). They worked in vacuum for 6 hours and 54 minutes to prepare for the future installation of extended solar panels (irosa) outside the space station.
Akiko xingchu and pesquet first left the airlock of the U.S. exploration and came to the left side of the main truss of the space station to reach the position called P4. There they worked together to build a support structure, called a retrofit kit, and then installed it on the mast of the existing P4 solar panel base. When the new solar panels are sent to the space station, the retrofit kit will allow astronauts to install a third irosa in future spacewalks, which can be rolled up like a carpet.
NASA is preparing to install six sets of irosa, and the newly installed kit will be ready for the installation of the third irosa. The array will upgrade one of the eight power channels of the space station, called 4a, and will provide part of the power for the U.S. destiny laboratory, the harmony node module and the European Columbus module. SpaceX cargo dragon spacecraft will send P4 / 4A irosa to the space station in 2022.
In June, two irosa were installed on the solar panel on the port side. The new solar panels will be able to increase the power supply of the space station by 20 to 30 per cent. The same irosa design also plans to power NASA’s lunar space station gateway.
Although the solar panels on the space station are still running, they have provided power support for the space station for more than 20 years. Due to long-term exposure to the space environment, these panels have begun to show signs of degradation because they have reached and exceeded the expected service life of 15 years. The new solar panels will be placed in front of the existing solar panels.
Dana Weigel, NASA’s deputy manager in charge of the international space station project, said that the propeller plume may be the main reason for the degradation of solar panels. These plumes come from the thrusters of the international space station and the flying ships that shuttle astronauts and cargo to and from the space station.
“Another factor affecting our solar panels is tiny meteorite debris. These solar panel arrays are composed of many small power strings. Over time, if these power strings are hit by debris, they will degrade,” she said
The life expectancy of the new solar panel is similar to the original one, which is also about 15 years. However, since the degradation of the original array is expected to be worse, NASA will monitor the new arrays to test their real life, as they may last longer.
After completing the installation of the support, xingchu Zhangyan and pesquet also replaced the floating-point measuring device, which is used to measure the charging potential of the solar panel of the space station and its nearby related surfaces. With the completion of the scheduled mission, the two astronauts returned to the airlock and entered the space station. The spacewalk ended in the afternoon and the airlock began to pressurize again.
The activities of Akiko xingchu and pesquet during the spacewalk were recorded by a special virtual reality (VR) camera, which was jointly produced into a documentary by Canadian VR studio Felix & Paul studios and Time magazine. During the spacewalk, the ground controller used the Canadarm2 manipulator of the space station to locate the customized 3D and 360 degree space camera.
NASA originally planned to let xingchu Zhangyan and American astronaut mark Vande Hei carry out the spacewalk together in August. Pesquet joined the spacewalk after vanderheim was nervous about his neck. Wandehai is still recovering. He is responsible for supporting the spacewalk operation in the space station.
Dana Weigel, NASA’s deputy manager in charge of the international space station project, said that all U.S. operating department (USOs) crew members, including NASA, JAXA and ESA astronauts, have received the same training, so the matching of spacewalkers usually depends on the composition of the crew of the international space station at any given time.
Weigel said at a briefing before the spacewalk: “there are always more NASA astronauts in the astronaut team, so in terms of probability, it is reasonable that NASA astronauts usually participate in every operation. But we have no rigid requirements in this regard, which is certainly not the basic rule of planning.”
Weigel said that with the help of the U.S. commercial astronaut program to add a crew, such as xingchu Zhangyan and pesquet, who arrived in the manned dragon spacecraft in April, the probability of astronauts from other partner countries participating in the spacewalk is also increasing. “Now we have four USOs crew members, and when we rely on the Russian Soyuz, we can only have three crew members. We may see such a thing again soon,” she said
Before Sunday’s spacewalk, 14 astronauts from JAXA, ESA or the Canadian Space Agency joined the ranks of an American astronaut. They carried out a total of 37 spacewalks. Akiko xingchu and pesquet conducted the 244th spacewalk to support the assembly and maintenance of the international space station. This is xingchu Zhangyan’s fourth spacewalk and pesquet’s sixth spacewalk. (reviewed by Tencent technology / Jinlu)