NASA astronauts to conduct spacewalks for power update

Washington: Astronauts on the International Space Station are to conduct two spacewalks in January for a “complex” upgrade to the orbital outpost’s power system, US space agency NASA said.

The spacewalks will allow the crew members to install adapter plates and hook up electrical connections for six new lithium-ion batteries delivered to the orbital laboratory early this month, NASA said on Wednesday.

Shane Kimbrough and Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson of NASA will perform the first spacewalk on January 6, while the work for the second spacewalk on January 13 will be conducted by Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency, Xinhua news reports.

According to NASA, 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, it said.