If you’re spacewalking and know it, raise your hands. On Sunday 12 September, Thomas Pesquet, ESA astronaut (left), and Aki Hoshide, JAXA astronaut (right), performed a spacewalk to prepare another section for the International Space Station’s solar panel upgrade. The new solar arrays called IROSA (ISS Roll-Out Solar Array) are gradually being installed over the existing arrays in order to increase the power supply of the International Space Station.
Thomas, a NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough, prepared and installed two IROSA panels over three spacewalks in June. The arrays were moved from their storage space outside of the Space Station to the worksite. The rolled arrays were then secured, unrolled, connected, and then unfurled.
Aki prepared the P4 Truss for IROSA’s installation. This is the same location as the one where Thomas and Shane installed the two IROSA’s, but it is closer to the Space Station’s main body in an area called 4A channel. This area will only be used for a new solar array installation on a future spacewalk.
Although Sunday’s extravehicular activ or EVA was the fourth spacewalk of Thomas’ Alpha mission it was Aki’s first spacewalk with Aki. It was also the first spacewalking tandem to not include a US or russian astronaut.
Aki, Thomas and their team worked well to prepare the 4A channel for IROSA’s next mission. They also managed to complete a second task to repair a floating potential measurement device that had become defective. This unit measures the difference in the Space Station’s conductive structure and the atmospheric plasma.
Thomas, Aki completed their spacewalks in six hours and 54minutes. This gives Thomas the ESA record of longest spacewalking time.
How did he celebrate his achievement? Ice cream!
Thomas reminds us that, “Spacewalks last seven hours and are like top sport, so we need the calories afterwards!”
As this image shows, the International Space Station is a huge, complex spacecraft. The International Space Station is the only human-capable space station. It was built by international partners. It is an impressive sight and requires spacewalks to keep it in good condition.
But as Thomas notes, fixing up the Space Station is not just a maintenance job, it is also “improving the station and what it stands for.”
Follow Thomas during his Alpha mission.