French and American astronauts on Wednesday made the first of two spacewalks this week to upgrade the International Space Station’s power supply.
Thomas Peske of the European Space Agency (ESA) and Shane Kimbrough of NASA ventured out of the ISS at around 14:00 CEST on Wednesday.
But Kimbrough ran into problems in his suit in the middle of a seven-hour spacewalk, forcing him to temporarily retreat back into the airlock to reset his equipment.
The break left Kimbrough and Peske an hour behind and then had trouble trying to deploy the solar panel booms before time finally ran out.
Mission Control reported that Kimbrough was safe the entire time, despite problems with the display control panel and his suit’s cooling system.
These two are due to head back on Sunday.
NASA astronauts Megan MacArthur and Mark Vande stayed inside the ISS and piloted a long robotic arm that carried Sand and Kimbrough to their jobs.
The goal of this week’s spacewalks is to install the first two of six new solar arrays (multi-solar panel systems) to boost the station’s power supply – current solar arrays are still operational, but their 15-year lifespan is nearing its end.
The new solar arrays, which were installed on June 10, will be placed in front of the current arrays, increasing the station’s total output from 160 kilowatts to a maximum of 215 kilowatts.
This week’s spacewalks will be Kimbrough’s seventh and eighth and Pesquet’s third and fourth. The first two spacewalks by a French astronaut were also carried out with Kimbrough.