Skip to main content

Watch NASA unfurl a huge solar array at the space station

NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency successfully completed their second spacewalk in four days on Sunday, June 20.

The spacewalk saw the pair install a 60-foot-long, 10-foot-wide roll-out solar array at the International Space Station (ISS) as part of ongoing work to upgrade the satellite’s power systems.

American astronaut Kimbrough and his French counterpart finished the extravehicular activity (EVA) — as spacewalks are officially known — at 2:10 p.m. ET, after 6 hours and 28 minutes. Sunday’s EVA marked the eighth ISS spacewalk this year.

The ISS Roll-Out Solar Array (iROSA) was fixed to the far end of the left (port) side of the station’s backbone truss structure. A short while after the spacewalk ended, NASA shared a time-lapse video showing the solar array unfurling.

#ICYMI: This time-lapse video shows the new roll out solar arrays deploying from start to finish. @Astro_Kimbrough and @Thom_Astro completed the installation work today then readied a second set of solar arrays for an upcoming spacewalk.

— International Space Station (@Space_Station) June 21, 2021

“Kimbrough and Pesquet successfully unfolded the solar array, bolted it into place, and connected cables to the station’s power supply to complete deployment,” NASA said in a report on the latest EVA. “Additionally, the astronauts removed and stowed hardware in preparation for releasing the second iROSA from the flight support structure for installation.” The two astronauts will set to work on the next solar array installation during another spacewalk currently scheduled for June 25.

ISS astronauts will install a total of six new solar arrays, all of them coming to the space station on SpaceX resupply missions. Transporting them in a rolled state is the only way to get them inside SpaceX’s Cargo Dragon spacecraft.

“With the new batteries that we developed and deployed last year, that really solidifies the power going forward for at least the next decade,” said John Mulholland, ISS vice president and program manager at Boeing, which provides engineering support for the station under contract with NASA.

Sunday’s spacewalk was the eighth for Kimbrough, the fourth for Pesquet, and the fourth in which they’ve both gone out together. According to NASA data, Kimbrough has now spent a total of 52 hours and 43 minutes spacewalking, and Pesquet 26 hours and 15 minutes.

To date, space station crew members have carried out 240 spacewalks geared toward assembly and maintenance of the habitable satellite, which orbits Earth at an altitude of around 250 miles. It means that spacewalkers have now spent a total of 63 days and 56 minutes working outside the orbiting outpost.

For some spectacular images of spacewalks at the ISS and in other settings from over the years, be sure to check out this gallery.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
NASA and Boeing start fueling Starliner spacecraft for first crewed flight
Engineers fuel Boeing's Starliner spacecraft.

Engineers fuel Boeing's Starliner spacecraft. Boeing Space

After numerous delays, NASA and Boeing look more certain than ever to launch the first crewed flight of the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft in May.

Read more
Watch SpaceX’s Starship burn brightly as it hurtles toward Earth
SpaceX's Starship reentering Earth's atmosphere.

SpaceX surprised a lot of people on Thursday morning when its mighty Starship rocket managed not to blow up seconds after liftoff.

The Starship -- comprising the first-stage Super Heavy booster and upper-stage Starship spacecraft -- enjoyed its most successful test flight yet following two short-lived missions in April and November last year.

Read more
How to watch SpaceX launch the third flight of its Starship rocket on Thursday
Starship stacked

SpaceX has announced when it will hold the next test of its Starship rocket. Itwill be the third test flight of the vehicle to date. The launch aims to send the vehicle, consisting of the Super Heavy booster and the Starship spacecraft, on a new trajectory, with a splashdown in the Indian Ocean.

SpaceX will be live-streaming the launch, and we have the details on how to watch below.

Read more