ISS may be set for retirement at the end of the decade, but there is still plenty of life left in the orbiting laboratory.
On Tuesday, ISS is preparing for more powerful upgrades as two National Aeronautics and Space Administration astronauts conduct the first spacewalk of the year.
Astronauts Raja Chari and Kayla Barron suited up and exited the space station to begin installations around 8:12 a.m. ET. Live coverage started on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s TV channel and website at 6:30 a.m. ET and the spacewalk are expected to last for six hours and 30 minutes.
The spacewalking duo will assemble and install modification kits to allow for future solar array upgrades outside of the space station. Raja Chari and Kayla Barron will install struts and brackets that will be used to support the arrival of more International Space Station Roll-Out Solar Arrays or iROSAs.
Kayla Barron will be extravehicular crew member 1 wearing the suit with red stripes during the spacewalk. Chari will be identifiable as extravehicular crew member 2 in the case with no lines.
Two of the iROSAs were put into place during previous spacewalks. Once all arrays are installed, they are expected to increase six of the eight power channels on the space station, kicking up the available supply from 160 kilowatts to 215 kilowatts.
Six solar arrays arrived at the space station on June 5 after launching on the 22nd SpaceX Dragon cargo resupply mission. The arrays are rolled up like a carpet and are 750 pounds and 10 feet wide. Four more arrays will be delivered during a future mission.