Astronauts on the spacewalk plunged on Friday in a comprehensive modernization of the solar energy network through battery connections in front of the International Space Station.
NASA's Christina Koch and Nick Hague successfully installed a set of new and stronger batteries, continuing the replacement a week ago.
It was not NASA's planned team. Koch was to go with astronaut Anne McClain to the first All-Female Spacewalk. However, the lineup was changed as there were no two sets for the women. After NASA pulled the switch, McClain said the decision was based on their recommendation.
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"Crew safety and mission execution are paramount," said McClain, an army aviator, via Twitter this week.
[Koch was selected as an astronaut by NASA in 2013. She completed astronaut candidate training in July 2015. Koch, a native of Michigan, graduated from North Carolina State University with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and Physics and a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering.]
Koch – the 14th woman to make a spacewalk – came to the space station two weeks ago together with Hague. McClain, who became the 13th Spacewalker last week, has been aboard since December. Over 200 men ran in space.
The Space Station's outdated nickel-hydrogen batteries are being replaced by lithium-ion batteries, a lengthy process that spans several years. These batteries store the energy collected by the solar wings and keep the outpost on the night side of the earth running. The big robotic arm on the space station took care of the heavy lifting in advance, removed the old batteries and put the new ones in the empty slots at the beginning of the week.
In addition to installing three new batteries, Koch and Hague separated one of the three installed last week due to higher voltage than expected. It will be replaced by two old batteries until a replacement battery arrives. The astronauts were running forward all the time, even stating some additional tasks before ending their 6 ½-hour spacewalk.
"Everyone is very impressed with what we have achieved today," cried Mission Control. "You guys are rocking."
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McClain retired from the spacewalk on Friday, when she noticed that the mid-size suit she used last week fit her best. She should switch to a big one. Cook also takes a medium. While another centerpiece is available for a space suit, it would have taken 12 hours to complete it – NASA did not want to spend any time with all the other station activities.
"It's safer and faster to change the assignments of spacewalkers than to reconfigure space suits." NASA explained this via Twitter.
All first-time space carriers, McClain, Koch, and Hague, are members of the NASA Astronaut Class of 2013, the first to include the same number of women and men.
A third spacewalk is scheduled for April 8; McClain will go out with Canadian David Saint-Jacques.
The 250-mile high station is also home to two Russians.
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