Astronauts Complete 2nd Battery-Spacewalk

By Ben Hamill - July 03 2020
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Astronauts Complete 2nd Battery-Spacewalk

NASA astronauts Chris Cassidy and Bob Behnken have just completed their 2nd spacewalk in under a week – this time round to replace old and worn-down batteries outside the International Space Station. The bulky box-batteries are what keep the space station orbiting.

ISS battery swap-outs, which began back in 2017, will no longer be necessary once all the outdated batteries have been replaced with new-and-improved lithium-ion batteries. The new-tech batteries can be expected to last the remainder of the orbiting space station’s life. This according to NASA officials who this week commented on Cassidy and Behnken’s progress. And in addition to the improved batteries having a much longer lifespan, they’re also less space-consuming – each two outdated batteries removed by the astronauts are being replaced by a single lithium-ion battery only.

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Earth Shows Up From Down

Removing the old batteries from their casings was according to Cassidy not the easiest job in the universe, as loosening some of the bolts required quite a bit of extra elbow grease. The batteries put up a good fight, radioed Cassidy back home to NASA. And lucky for the pair of spacewalkers, added the astronaut, earth could be counted on for telling up from down during the six-hour journey in outer space.

In addition to the swapping out of the old batteries with modernised new ones, the pair also had to reconnect the power routers outside the 420km-high ISS outpost, as well as ensure that the ethernet cables were all in good keep and charge.

NASA has in the meantime said it wants the battery-replacement project a done deal before Behnken returns to Earth in August. Bob Behnken, Doug Hurley and Chris Cassidy are all currently still on the International Space Station. Behnken and Hurley on May 31 became the latest crewmates to join NASA’s “Expedition 63” crew when they were transported into space aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon. Station Commander Chris Cassidy has been in on the orbiting ISS since April 9 and will return home ahead of his fellow crewmates.

Space Walking Is Risky Says NASA

NASA says it considers spacewalks to be particularly risky business – in fact, one of the riskiest parts of any mission. Astronauts are prepared to walk in the environment of space by undergoing hours of under-water simulation training.

Even so, a Virginia-based company called Space Adventures Inc. is currently awaiting applications by paying customers interested in flying to the space station and embarking on a spacewalk alongside an experienced Russian astronaut. Doable but certainly very challenging, is Behnken’s take on the matter.

Space Adventures Inc. hasn’t yet released any price information.

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