Life & Technology

Swapping Batteries in Space Station ISS


The spacewalk planned by U.S. NASA to replace old batteries on International Space Station. Astronauts Anne McClain and Nick Hague were first to replaced six old nickel-hydrogen batteries with three new lithium-ion on the station’s P4 truss.

The upgrade was done on March 22, by the two rookie spacewalker, and had spent six hours and thirty-nine minutes working on the station’s solar arrays.

The old batteries were on the ISS for almost 12 years, exceeding their expected lifetime of 6.5 years. These new lithium-ion batteries have an improved power capacity for the station, and they have a smaller volume than the old ones.

The space station is equipped with solar panels to generate power, but the batteries are used when it’s orbiting the Earth during the night.

However, the job of the two astronauts couldn’t be done without some help. The robotic station arm, Canadarm2 did much of the heavy work. The lithium-ion batteries weights 194 kilograms and they are about the size of a small refrigerator. Even if the heavy objects don’t weigh anything in space, the dragging of the batteries would have taken more spacewalking time.

Moreover, they also had to remove some debris from outside of the station. Nick Hague had tied back the restraints on a blanket box on the P4 segment solar array.

After this Friday spacewalk, NASA will conduct at least another four more spacewalks this year. The mission is the same. They must continue to replace the 20-years-old station’s batteries.

Because they are halfway replacing 48 batteries, the next mission will be on March 29 with McClain and Christina Koch. This mission will be the first-ever spacewalk with all-female astronauts.

The third spacewalk mission will be on April 8 with Hague and David Saint-Jacques.

They will lay out jumper cables between the Unity module and S0 truss. All this work will consist of a lot of communications coverage and computer network capability.

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