Yesterday, the 6th of January, Shane Kimbrough, the International Space Station’s commander, and his flight navigator, Peggy Wilson, completed their first spacewalk of 2017. The two seasoned astronauts stepped outside the airlock at approximately 7:23 am. They’ve spent a total of six hours and 32 minutes floating in space, as a whole world watched their artistic performance.
It would seem that 2017 has proved to be a productive year for the astronauts aboard the International Space Station. After spending some time relaxing, eating great food, and watching flicks during the New Year’s Eve party, the ISS crew resumed its duties.
The first activity scheduled for 2017 was a spacewalk. During this trek through the void, the expedition’s commander, and Whitson, a veteran astronaut, had the tough task of replacing the space station’s obsolete nickel-hydrogen batteries with brand new lithium-ion batteries.
The two astronauts had to install a total of six new power cells, each of them the size of a kitchen fridge. It may sound as simple as swapping the batteries from a remote controller, but, in reality, the task is complex and quite challenging.
The operation started some time ago when the new lithium-ion power cells arrived on the International Space Station. Using the station’s Dexterous Manipulator (robotic hand), the ground control team placed the batteries into position, waiting for the astronauts to come and complete the jobs.
During their trip outside, Kimbrough and Whitson had to install three new adapter plates, install the new lithium-ion batteries, and configure the station’s entire power grid to accept the new batteries.
To everyone’s surprise, the two astronauts completed the task in half the time and spent the rest of their time working on other tasks, which were not related to the project, like installing a new Ethernet cable.
Six and a half hours later, the two astronauts returned to the airlock, where they were greeted by their colleagues. However, this is only the beginning. According to NASA’s statements, Kimbrough, the expedition’s commander, will step outside for the second time this year, accompanied by French astronaut Thomas Pesquet.
It would also seem that this expedition being carried out by record-breakers. For example, Kimbrough’s flight navigator, Peggy Whitson, spent almost 48 hours outside the command module, and the oldest female to spend that much time in space.
Image source: Flickr