NASA astronauts complete installation of the first roll out solar array

Over the weekend, NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet conducted a spacewalk outside the ISS to install the first of the recently delivered roll out solar arrays. The spacewalk ended at 2:10 PM EDT and lasted six hours and 28 minutes. The duo's successful spacewalk marks the eighth conducted this year.

The ISS is getting two new solar arrays to help improve its power systems, and this first installation was done on the far end of the port side of backbone truss structure P6. The two astronauts were successful in unfolding the solar array and bolting it in place. They also worked to connect cables to the station's power supply to complete the deployment.

While outside the space station, the two astronauts also removed and stowed hardware in preparation for releasing the second rollout solar array from the flight support structure for installation. The second solar array will be installed on the P6 truss 4B power channel during another spacewalk scheduled for June 25.

The solar arrays were sent to the ISS to allow NASA to augment six of the existing power channels to provide the station with sufficient power for the technology demonstrations intended for the Artemis program and other needs. The time spent outside the space station marked the eighth spacewalk for Kimbrough and the fourth for Pesquet.

Kimbrough has spent over 52 hours on spacewalks, with Pesquet having spent about 26 hours outside the space station. The cumulative time for all astronauts who have conducted spacewalks outside the ISS currently stands at 63 days and 56 minutes since the space station was put into orbit. Adding new solar arrays is part of how NASA plans to upgrade the ISS as the aging station has begun to show signs of wear, having been lived and worked aboard for decades. The existing solar panels have degraded over time and no longer provide as much power as they once did.