ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet and @JAXA | astronaut Akihiko Hoshide performed a spacewalk on 12 September 2021 to prepare for the installation of a new solar array on the International Space Station.
The new solar arrays, called IROSA or ISS Roll-Out Solar Array, are being gradually installed over the existing arrays to boost the International Space Stations power system.
Thomas and @NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough prepared and installed two IROSA solar panels across three spacewalk in June. The arrays were taken from their storage area outside the Space Station and passed from spacewalker to spacewalker to the worksite. There the rolled arrays were secured, unfolded, connected and then unfurled.
Aki and Thomas prepared the P4 truss for its IROSA installation. This is the same area as where Thomas and Shane installed two IROSAs but closer to the main body of the Space Station, in an area called the 4A channel. Only one new solar array will be installed here, on a later spacewalk.
While the extravehicular activity or EVA was already the fourth spacewalk during Thomas Alpha mission, it was his first with Aki and the first time a spacewalking pair did not feature a US or Russian astronaut.
Aki and Thomas made good time preparing the 4A channel for the next IROSA and were able to complete a second task to replace a floating potential measurement unit that was faulty. This unit measures the difference between the Space Stations conductive structures and the atmospheric plasma.
Thomas and Aki completed their spacewalk in six hours and 54 minutes, which hands Thomas the ESA record for longest time spent spacewalking.
Thomas posted this video on his social media channels with the caption: Hanging out with my buddy Aki on last week's spacewalk. The music and timelapse makes it look comical, but as you can see tools and equipment have a life of their own and never stop floating away. Keeping track and even just staying in position in front of the worksite is a constant fight! We got the support bracket done and the truss is ready for the new roll-out solar arrays. We are passing on the baton to the next crew, the arrays need to be launched still and they will be installed next year.
Over 200 experiments are planned during Thomas time in space, with 40 European ones and 12 new experiments led by the French space agency @CNES.
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