Astronauts take a spacewalk to swap station batteries

The astronauts carried out their second spacewalk in less than a week on Wednesday to replace the old batteries outside the International Space Station.

By Associated Press | Posted by Jasra Afreen | Cape Canaveral

UPDATE JUL 03, 2020 12:43 IST

On Wednesday, the astronauts conducted their second spacewalk in less than a week to replace old batteries outside the International Space Station. Commander Chris Cassidy and Bob Behnken quickly tackled the big square batteries. For each release of two obsolete batteries, a new and improved one powers the station on the night side of Earth.

Within hours, the astronauts had installed another new battery, the third in this latest series of spacewalks. NASA plans to send the pair two more times in July to complete battery swaps that began in 2017. The new lithium-ion batteries are expected to last the remainder of the space station’s life, officials say.

With their main task complete, Cassidy and Behnken jumped forward to loosen the bolts of the remaining obsolete batteries. Some of the bolts required extra muscle. “Boy, it held up well,” Cassidy said over the radio. “These batteries, they love their house.”

Before floating, Cassidy attached a spare mirror to her sleeve to replace the one that came loose and floated during Friday’s spacewalk. Astronauts use the wrist mirrors to view the screens on their chest control panel.

NASA wants the battery work to be done before Behnken returns to Earth in August aboard a SpaceX capsule. He is one of two test pilots to launch SpaceX’s first astronaut flight in May, Cassidy and Behnken now have eight spacewalks each on their CVs. A space tourist might have the chance to join the prestigious ranks of space walking – for the right price.

Virginia-based Space Adventures Inc. is looking for a paying client to not only fly to the space station, but also take a spacewalk with an experienced Russian cosmonaut. Before leaving Kazakhstan, the space tourist would need to undergo additional training in Star City, Russia.

Space Adventures is not disclosing the cost of the two week mission. The flight would occupy two tourists in 2023, one of whom would be leaving. Russian rocket company Energia has partnered with Space Adventures for the expedition, and several specialized training would be needed before anyone ventures out on a spacewalk, Behnken told The Associated Press earlier. this week.

NASA considers spacewalks to be one of the riskiest parts of any mission, and astronauts spend hours training underwater – the closest simulation to space walking on Earth. “I think it could be very difficult for a tourist to go on a spacewalk,” Behnken said. Any tourist would want several practice sessions in order to be “prepared for the space environment”.

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