Two NASA astronauts made their way outside the International Space Station early Sunday morning at approximately 6:12 AM ET. The astronauts venturing outside the space station were Kate Rubins and Victor Glover Jr. They were on a mission to prepare the station for coming solar panel upgrades. The spacewalk was expected to last about 6.5 hours and is being aired live on the NASA website.
If the spacewalk is still going, the official NASA website for viewing can be seen here. Both Rubins and Glover have ventured outside the space station before. Glover conducted two walks on previous missions making today’s spacewalk his third. Rubins conducted spacewalks on her first rotation to the space station in 2016; today’s spacewalk is also her third.
For those wondering about astronauts taking spacewalks so early in the morning on a weekend, Kenny Todd, Deputy manager for the ISS program, said during a conference last week that it’s not a “Monday through Friday kind of program.” Rubins and Glover will be assembling and installing modification kits for the coming solar panel upgrades.
The solar panels powering the space station currently are still functioning, but they are degrading. Degradation is expected because panels have a 15-year life and were installed in December 2000. New solar arrays will be placed in front of the six arrays currently on the space station later this year, boosting power from 160 kilowatts to 215 kilowatts.
The new solar panels will head to the space station aboard a SpaceX vehicle in June. Rubins will be acting as crew member 1 during the spacewalk wearing a suit with red stripes, and Glover will be crew member 2, and his spacesuit has no stripes.