2 NASA Astronauts Complete Spacewalk; Upgrading Power Supply of Space Station

By Ana Verayo, | January 09, 2017

Astronaut Peggy Whitson is pictured during a spacewalk in November 2007. (NASA)

Astronaut Peggy Whitson is pictured during a spacewalk in November 2007. (NASA)

On Friday, January 6, two NASA astronauts successfully completed a spacewalk at the International Space Station, upgrading the power supply of the station. Commander Shane Kimborough of the Expedition 50 and Peggy Whitson performed this dangerous task outside the space lab at 7:23 a.m. EST.

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The duo spent more than six hours outside the space station installing three adapter plates and electrical configurations to prepare for a new set of batteries for the orbiting space laboratory. After completing their mission in just over four hours, the astronauts completed other tasks as well and even captured photos of deep space.

This is the first spacewalk that the two astronauts will carry out this month to replace 12 old nickel hydrogen batteries with six new lithium ion batteries. NASA scientists revealed that these new ISS batteries are similar to the batteries found in cellular phones only larger. One is around the size of a regular home refrigerator.

 The nine old batteries will be transported back with next cargo supply spacecraft, and three of them will remain at the ISS. These three will be disconnected from the main power grid. By installing new adapter plates, the new lithium ion batteries will be integrated into the existing power system of the entire space station.

These new batteries and adapters arrived via the Japanese HTV-6 cargo spacecraft along with other supplies and equipment for the space station last month.

Since the six new batteries and adapter plates were installed ahead of schedule, the astronauts were able to use their remaining time during the spacewalk to also install a new ethernet cable.

In total, the duo spent six hours and 32 minutes in space. This is the third spacewalk for Kimborough and the seventh for Whitson. Whitson is also the first woman in space who has completed the most number of spacewalks and is also the oldest woman to travel to space at 56.

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