US, French astronauts make ISS spacewalk


This NASA TV frame grab captured on June 20, 2021 shows US astronaut Shane Kimbrough seen from French astronaut Thomas Pesquet’s helmet camera as the two installed a solar panel array on the International Space Station – Copyright POOL/AFP/File Alexander Zemlianichenko

French and an American astronaut completed a six-hour spacewalk Sunday as they installed new solar panels to boost power supplies to the International Space Station (ISS), NASA said.

“It is a huge team effort each time and couldn’t be happier to return with @astro_kimbrough,” tweeted Frenchman Thomas Pesquet, referring to his American colleague Shane Kimbrough.

Pesquet is with the European Space Agency, Kimbrough with NASA.

The two men, who arrived on the space station in late April, activated the internal batteries in their space suits at 11H42 GMT, then opened the hatch to the ISS airlock.

They then continued the work of positioning, attaching and deploying six new-generation solar panels, referred to as iROSA, for Roll-Out Solar Array.

– Another spacewalk Friday –

The panels, 60 feet (19 meters) long when deployed, were delivered to the station early this month by an uncrewed SpaceX flight.

The astronauts are slated to complete the installation of a second solar panel array on Friday.

The new panels, which will power both daily operations and the research and science projects carried out on the ISS, are expected to have a 15-year lifespan.

A first spacewalk on Wednesday ran into several snags, notably problems with Kimbrough’s spacesuit. He temporarily lost data on his spacesuit display unit, and then suffered a brief spike in the suit’s pressure reading.

Sunday’s outing was the fourth time the two astronauts had ventured into space together.

In addition to Wednesday’s spacewalk, they did so twice on a 2017 mission, attached by tethers to the space station as it orbits the Earth at an altitude of some 250 miles (400 kilometers).

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In all, there have been 240 ISS spacewalks as astronauts carry out the work of assembling and maintaining, as well as upgrading, the station.

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