Upgrades to the International Space Station’s power system will call for two separate spacewalks for Expedition 50 astronauts aboard the orbital outpost next month.
Commander Shane Kimbrough and flight engineer Peggy Whitson, both of NASA, will perform the first spacewalk Jan. 6. The work will be continued during a second spacewalk on Jan. 13 when Kimbrough and flight engineer Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency will conduct work on the power system.
Crew members will install adapter plates and hook up electrical connections for six new lithium-ion batteries on the right side truss of the space station. Before each spacewalk, the new batteries will be robotically extracted from a pallet to replace 12 older nickel-hydrogen batteries through a series of robotic operations, NASA announced. Nine of the older batteries will be stowed in a cargo resupply craft for disposal and three will remain on the station’s truss, disconnected from the power grid.
Whitson will celebrate the seventh spacewalk of her career, matching the record with NASA’s Suni Williams for the most spacewalks by a woman. She will be designated extravehicular crew member 2 (EV 2), wearing the suit with no stripes for the first spacewalk.
Kimbrough will be making his third and fourth spacewalks during this mission, and the task will mark the first spacewalk for Pesquet.
A briefing on the planned work will be held at 2 p.m. Jan. 4 and will be broadcast on NASA TV. Kenneth Todd, ISS operations integration manager; Jud Frieling, flight director for the Jan. 6 spacewalk; Gary Horlacher, flight director for the Jan. 13 spacewalk; Troy McCracken lead battery replacement robotics officer; and Keith Johnson, lead spacewalk officer will all participate in the briefing.
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