Spacesuit problems encountered by astronauts early today prevented them from completing the installation of powerful new solar panels outside the International Space Station.

A report from ABC News said NASA Astronaut Shane Kimbrough encountered a couple of spacesuit issues in the middle of the seven-hour spacewalk, obliging them to temporarily retreat into the airlock to have his equipment reset.

Such an interruption put Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet, a French astronaut, an hour behind. They then had trouble trying to unfold booms of the solar panel before they finally ran out of time.

This report also specified, the two astronauts are supposed "to venture back out Sunday." Although it is not clear whether the schedule will be delayed or if the astronauts will be able to wrap up work on the first solar panel or begin a second one.

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Science Times - Spacesuit Problems Preempt 2 Astronauts From Completing New Solar Panel Installation Outside ISS
(Photo : NASA on Wikimedia Commons)
Astronaut’s spacesuit comprising Mode selector switch, Purge valve, Suit pressure gauge, Cooling control valve, O2 Actuator Control, Display intensity control, Volume controls, Push to talk, Fan switch, CWS (Caution and Warning Switch) Switch, Power mode switch, and Feedwater valve switch.

Spacesuit Problems

NASA's goal is to revitalize the aging space station due to the growing demand to visit it. However, there is no urgency to do so, according to Rob Navias, the Mission Control commentator, with the old solar panels that provide abundant power at present.

They will continue operating in a degraded state, added Navias, even after the newly installed ones are up and running.

Mission Control emphasized that Kimbrough was safe the whole time, amidst the problem with the display control panel of his suit and a fleeting pressure spike in the cooling system.

The astronaut's control panel came back on, with Mission Control constantly monitoring the cooling system of his suit, saying, "it just wants to be very safe there."

Safety Precautions in Place

This was the first of a series of spacewalks to provide the aging orbital outpost with six smaller yet stronger solar wings, a similar Digital Journal report stated.

The electrical boost is needed for the accommodation of paying passengers expected to drop by, starting with a Russian film crew in the fall.

The space agency put extra safety precautions in place as the two astronauts worked on the primary power grid of the station to prevent an electrical shock.

Kimbrough and Pesquet conducted the most dangerous part of the spacewalk on the Earth's nighttime side to prevent the old solar panels of the station from soaking up sunlight and producing power. Furthermore, surfaces on the astronauts' spacesuits were covered for the avoidance of any contact.

First of the New Solar Panels

Launched by SpaceX in early June, the first of these new solar panels will run alongside the oldest electricity-producing wings, in continuing operations for over two decades.

The astronauts needed to lug the bundled solar wing, 10 feet long and four feet wide, to the work area on the station's far left end.

They were able to bolt it into place, although they could not unfold the booms due to a problem in the mounting bracket. Once properly installed, the solar panel is designed to roll out like a 63-feet long red carpet.

NASA wants the space station to stay churning out science studies through this decade, and space tourists will more extensively tax the power system.

In October this year, a Russian movie actress and director are slated to visit the station for filming. Then, wealthy entrepreneurs are also scheduled to follow, launching from Kazakhstan and Cape Canaveral as part of an initiative to open up the private space market.

A similar report is shown on FRANCE 23 English's YouTube video below:

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