Florida – The astronauts completed the first of five walks on Sunday to replace old batteries from the International Space Station (ISS).
Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan removed three old batteries and installed two new ones that arrived at the ISS just a week ago, ahead of future tasks. These new lithium-ion batteries are so powerful that one is equivalent to two of the previous ones, which are the original ones in the laboratory in orbit.
“An incredible job today. We have advanced a lot, ”the Mission Control said on the radio. Koch replied: "It was a wonderful day … we hope to continue with the rest of the series."RELATED
Koch and Morgan will leave again on Friday to continue battery replacement 250 miles away.
The 400-pound batteries, half the size of a refrigerator, are part of the station's solar network. Astronauts have been renovating them since 2017 and now they have changed more than half. Old batteries have 10 years of use; The new ones are expected to last until the IEE stops working, offering vital energy on the night side of the Earth.
These recent battery replacements are particularly difficult given their extreme location in the long structure of the station. It is out of reach of the 58-foot long robotic arm, which made Koch and Morgan have to charge the batteries from side to side by themselves. That is why many spacewalks are needed on this occasion to replace the 12 old nickel-hydrogen batteries with six new lithium-ion batteries.
Koch and Morgan took turns charging each battery as they advanced, like caterpillars, along the structure. The batteries were so bulky that they prevented astronauts from seeing each other, which generated constant dialogue.
"I am right next to you," Koch said at one point. "I have the battery," Morgan replied. Then Koch charged the battery, and so they continued until they finished the job.
They finished the seven-hour walk by connecting the two new batteries, one more than planned, and removing an additional old battery.
NASA plans to complete all five walks this month, followed by a Russian spacewalk. Then another five walks between Americans and Italians will take place in November and December to arrange an important scientific instrument. NASA has called it a "spacewalk bonanza."
This unusually high number of spacewalks includes the first made exclusively by women – by Kochy Jessica Meir – later this month.
Koch has completed more than two thirds of his mission of more than 300 days. It will be the longest individual spacewalk performed by a woman.