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Watch space station’s new solar array unfurl in space

Two American astronauts successfully completed a spacewalk at the International Space Station (ISS) on Saturday, December 3.

NASA’s Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio spent just over seven hours outside the orbital laboratory before concluding their spacewalk at 2:21 p.m. ET. This was only the second spacewalk for both astronauts, following the pair’s first one on November 15.

Cassada and Rubio successfully installed another Roll-Out Solar Array (iROSA) as part of ongoing work to upgrade the station’s power supply system. The arrays’ large size meant they had to be rolled up into a compact shape to fit them inside the rocket’s fairing when they were launched to space.

“The iROSAs will increase power-generation capability by up to 30%, increasing the station’s total available power from 160 kilowatts to up to 215 kilowatts,” NASA said.

In a message on the space station’s Twitter account, a time-lapse video showed the new array unfurling ahead of operation.

#ICYMI: @NASA_Astronauts Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio installed a new roll-out solar array on the station and watched as it unfurled (seen here in time-lapse) during a spacewalk on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. More… https://t.co/QSf5IegiDj pic.twitter.com/nT4XiHgNSp

— International Space Station (@Space_Station) December 4, 2022

NASA livestreamed the entirety of the spacewalk, with commentary from agency personnel, as well as real-time audio feeds from the astronauts themselves, offering some insight into the various activities carried out during the event.

Spacewalk with NASA Astronauts Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio

Saturday’s spacewalk was the 256th in support of space station assembly, upgrades, and maintenance, NASA confirmed.

Cassada arrived at the station in early October as part of the SpaceX Crew-5 team, while Rubio reached the station in September aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

During their six-month stints in low-Earth orbit, the pair will be working on a slew of science experiments in microgravity conditions, along with the occasional spacewalk to help maintain the 22-year-old station.

The next NASA spacewalk is set for Monday, December 19, and will involve the installation of another iROSA — the fourth array out of a total six planned for installation. NASA has yet to confirm who will take part in the upcoming spacewalk.

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