Two astronauts from the International Space Station (ISS) made the first spacewalk of the year yesterday, working on the outside of the station as part of a long-term program to upgrade the ISS power system. The spacewalk took place on Friday, January 20, and lasted over seven hours, although not one troublesome tension was introduced as planned.
NASA astronaut Nicole Mann and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata were the two astronauts who took part in the spacewalk, and this was the first spacewalk for each.
The ISS’s solar arrays that provide power to the station are aging, so a long-term project has astronauts installing new arrays called iROSAs offsetting the old arrays — allowing both sets of arrays to provide power . The aim of yesterday’s spacewalk was to install two mounting platforms, which would be used to install new solar arrays later this year.
The astronauts successfully installed a platform for the new array on power channel 1B, but were only able to complete part of the work required for the second platform at power channel 1A. “Due to time constraints, plans for the final strut for the second platform have been postponed until a future spacewalk,” NASA wrote. “There is no impact on station operations.”
One challenge for the astronauts was in the form of a complex path, reports space.com. There are restraint points on the outside of the station that astronauts use to stay in place while working, including one type designed to move into different positions called an articulated portable foot restraint or APFR. One such “sticky” APFR caused Mann some trouble as it was difficult for her to get in and out of the device, but with Wakata’s help she was able to get it to work.
This issue with the APFR took extra time so the pair were unable to implement the middle foundation of the second platform. This post will be postponed until a later spacewalk.