Never change a winning team. Frenchman Thomas Pesquet, currently on the International Space Station (ISS), will carry out two spacewalks next week with Shane Kimbrough, an American astronaut who had already accompanied him twice out of the station during his first mission in 2017. ” Each spacewalk will last around 6 hours 30 minutes, ”NASA said in a statement Monday.
The two teammates will install two new solar panels, one on June 16 and one on June 20. Provided by Boeing and Redwire, they arrived at the station last Saturday aboard a Dragon SpaceX freighter. Of the eight supply channels that make up the ISS, six must therefore undergo renovations within the next two years. “The current solar panels are working well but have started to show signs of degradation, as expected, as they were designed for a 15 year lifespan,” says NASA.
“The space station’s first pair of original solar panels were deployed in December 2000 and have powered the station for over 20 years. The new solar panels will be positioned in front of six of the current panels, increasing the total available power of the station from 160 kilowatts to a maximum of 215 kilowatts ”, detailed the US agency.
More than a year of preparation
While Thomas Pesquet, 43, will perform his third and fourth scuba diving during the installation of the first two panels, it will be the seventh and eighth time that the American Shane Kimbrough, 54, will take part in this tiring exercise, requiring a lot of concentration, but often experienced by astronauts as an incredible experience.
“It took more than a year to prepare for the 2 spacewalks that will take place next week. This kind of non-standard operation involves very different areas and a great deal of coordination. Thank you to those who make our outings possible! Thomas Pesquet tweeted Monday.
New message, Thursday from the French astronaut: “We continue to prepare for spacewalks with @astro_kimbrough. This week we are mainly working on the wetsuits. “