A Productive Week Aboard the International Space Station: From Solar Arrays to Spacesuits

by Mateo Gonzalez
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Spacewalks

NASA astronaut Stephen Bowen, a member of Expedition 69, was captured in a photo as he diligently worked on releasing a stowed roll-out solar array attached to the starboard truss structure of the International Space Station (ISS). This successful spacewalk, lasting six hours and three minutes, took place on June 9, 2023.

Throughout a bustling week on the ISS, NASA astronauts accomplished a range of tasks. They conducted a spacewalk to install the station’s sixth solar array, bolstering its power capacity by an impressive 30%. Additionally, preparations were made for an upcoming spacewalk next week, which will involve hardware replacement and maintenance. Among other activities, the crew managed cargo, performed spacesuit maintenance, underwent medical scans, and conducted a station reboost to facilitate the arrival of a resupply mission.

The diligent crew of Expedition 69 on the International Space Station (ISS) wrapped up a week filled with spacewalk endeavors as they geared up for another busy week ahead. NASA astronauts Woody Hoburg and Stephen Bowen successfully completed the installation of the sixth roll-out solar array during their spacewalk on Thursday. Working for five hours and 35 minutes in the vacuum of space, the duo achieved their installation mission. It’s worth noting that on June 9, Hoburg and Bowen installed another roll-out solar array that had been delivered inside the SpaceX Dragon cargo vehicle on June 6. The initial roll-out solar array was installed precisely two years ago, on June 16, 2021, by Shane Kimbrough of NASA and Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency (ESA) during Expedition 65’s spacewalk. With the activation of all six roll-out solar arrays, the ISS’s power generation capacity has increased by approximately 30%.

The following day, Hoburg and Bowen were joined by Flight Engineers Frank Rubio of NASA and Sultan Alneyadi of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for a post-spacewalk debriefing conference with mission controllers at midday. During the debriefing, the quartet discussed their experiences and any issues they encountered, providing valuable insights for future spacewalks.

In addition to their spacewalk endeavors, the four astronauts dedicated time to various tasks at the end of the week. Bowen, Hoburg, and Alneyadi took turns managing cargo transfers to and from the Dragon cargo vehicle, while Alneyadi also recharged the water tanks inside spacesuits. Rubio underwent an eye scan using the Ultrasound 2 device, with remote guidance from ground-based doctors.

Looking ahead, the next spacewalk at the ISS is scheduled for Thursday, June 22, with Commander Sergey Prokopyev and Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin exiting the Poisk airlock. Throughout the week, the duo has been reviewing procedures and preparing their spacesuits for the planned seven-hour spacewalk. Their fifth joint spacewalk will involve replacing Roscosmos science and communications hardware and capturing photographs of the Zvezda service module’s condition.

Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev collected radiation data from sensors worn by Hoburg and Bowen during their spacewalk, and later focused on servicing a carbon dioxide removal device inside the Zvezda service module, as well as cleaning vent screens in the Zarya module.

On Friday, the ISS underwent an orbital reboost, with the 83P firing its engines for 13 minutes, resulting in a slightly higher orbit. This adjustment aligns the station at the correct altitude for the upcoming docking of the ISS Progress 84 resupply mission.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Spacewalks

What tasks were completed during the busy week aboard the International Space Station?

During the busy week aboard the International Space Station, tasks completed included a spacewalk to install the sixth solar array, increasing the station’s power capacity by 30%. Other tasks involved cargo management, spacesuit maintenance, medical scans, and a station reboost in preparation for a resupply mission.

How many solar arrays have been installed on the International Space Station?

With the recent installation of the sixth roll-out solar array, a total of six solar arrays have been installed on the International Space Station.

When was the first roll-out solar array installed on the International Space Station?

The very first roll-out solar array was installed on June 16, 2021, by Expedition 65 spacewalkers Shane Kimbrough of NASA and Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency (ESA).

What is the purpose of the upcoming spacewalk?

The upcoming spacewalk aims to replace Roscosmos science and communications hardware and capture photographs of the Zvezda service module’s condition. It will be conducted by Commander Sergey Prokopyev and Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin.

What was the outcome of the orbital reboost conducted on the International Space Station?

The orbital reboost, achieved by firing the engines of the 83P for 13 minutes, resulted in a slightly higher orbit for the International Space Station. This adjustment was made to ensure the station is at the correct altitude for the upcoming docking of the ISS Progress 84 resupply mission.

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