As part of ongoing upgrades to the International Space Station’s power system, two astronauts will take a stroll outside the station this week. On Tuesday, August 24, you can watch along from home as they perform a spacewalk to install hardware in preparation for a new solar array which will soon be installed.
What to expect from the spacewalk
The International Space Station’s solar arrays provide power for the orbiting laboratory. NASA will install a total of six new roll-out solar arrays in front of the existing arrays at 1A, 2B, 3A, 3B, 4A, and 4B to augment the power. During the Aug. 24 spacewalk, NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and astronaut Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will install the modification kit on the 4A power channel, where the next new roll out solar array will be installed in 2022. NASA
NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and Japanese space agency JAXA astronaut Akihiko Hoshide will be performing the spacewalk. They’ll be working to prepare power channel 4A, shown in the diagram above, by installing a support bracket for the new solar array known as an International Space Station Roll-Out Solar Arrays (iROSA).
Two of these arrays have already been installed, and this installation will be the third of six. The array in question provides power to several parts of the station, including the U.S. Laboratory, the Harmony module, and the Columbus module.
The current solar arrays were originally designed to last for 15 years, but some have been working for more than 20 years. Although the arrays are still functional, over time their efficiency is reduced. Between that and developments in solar array technology, the new arrays will provide more power than the old arrays, even though they are smaller.
How to watch the spacewalk
The spacewalk will be shown live on NASA TV. You can watch either using the video embedded at the top of this page or by heading to the NASA website.
Coverage of the spacewalk begins at 7 a.m. ET (4 a.m. PT) on Tuesday, August 24. The spacewalk itself is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. ET (5:30 a.m. PT). It is expected to last up to seven hours.
If you’re really keen to learn more, NASA will also be holding a briefing on the day before with more information about the spacewalk. To watch the briefing, you can tune in to NASA TV on Monday, August 23 at 2 p.m. ET (11 a.m. PT).