Washington: Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) are set to perform two spacewalks for a complex upgrade to the orbital outpost’a power system, with one of them aiming to match Indian-American Sunita Williams’ record for most spacewalks by a woman.
Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough and Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson of NASA will perform the first spacewalk on January 6. Ms Whitson will be making the seventh spacewalk of her career and match the record of NASA astronaut Williams, for most spacewalks by a woman.
Working on the right side truss of the space station, the crew members will install adapter plates and hook up electrical connections for six new lithium-ion batteries that were delivered to the station in December.
The work will continue on January 13 during the second spacewalk, which will be conducted by Kimbrough and Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet from the European Space Agency.
Prior to each spacewalk, the new batteries will be robotically extracted from a pallet to replace 12 older nickel-hydrogen batteries through a series of robotic operations.
Nine of the older batteries will be stowed in a cargo resupply craft for later disposal, while three will remain on the station’s truss, disconnected from the power grid.
This will be the 196th and 197th spacewalks in support of space station assembly and maintenance.