Japanese space station commander Akihiko Hoshide and Frenchman Thomas Pesquet floated outside the International Space Station (ISS) three days after a Russian spacewalk. These astronauts will construct a support structure for a roll-out solar array blanket that they will install later.

The astronauts also changed a gadget that analyzes the intensity of the electrical environment surrounding the International Space Station as it interacts with charged particles in the very high atmosphere.

A 3D camera installed on the space station's robot arm was on hand the entire time. It was supposed to record high-definition pictures of the spacewalk for use in a commercial documentary series called "The ISS Experience." The film aims to provide spectators with an immersive experience of living in space.

SpaceFlightNow, citing flight director Ali Boudous, said the procedures are made so that the camera will be entirely out of the way of the spacewalkers. They made sure, according to Boudous, that the camera receives an excellent perspective that doesn't interfere with their spacewalk responsibilities.

Hoshide, on his fourth spacewalk, and Pesquet, on his sixth, switched their spacesuits to battery power in the Quest airlock compartment, formally beginning off the year's 12th spacewalk.

The space agency's tweets and footage said the spacewalk began at 8:15 a.m. ET. It lasted six hours and 54 minutes. NASA TV and website have been broadcasting live footage.

Astronauts Complete NASA Spacewalk to Upgrade Solar Power

NASA is installing six new roll-out solar array blankets called iROSA to supplement ISS' eight existing wings. These items deteriorated over time and no longer provided the electricity they did when they were new.

The iROSA blankets are meant to be installed on triangular frames consisting of numerous struts constructed like Tinkertoys.

In June, astronauts placed two iROSA blankets on the left outboard arrays. Hoshide and Pesquet built the layer for a left-side inboard iROSA array during Sunday's spacewalk, which will be deployed next year or in 2023. The remaining three iROSAs will be placed on the power truss's right side.

 NASA Calls Off Spacewalk Outside ISS Due to Minor Medical Issue on One of the Astronauts
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Shuttle Mission Imagery Backdropped by a colorful Earth, astronaut Robert L. Curbeam, Jr. (left) and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Christer Fuglesang, both STS-116 mission specialists, participate in the mission's first of three planned sessions of extravehicular activity (EVA) as construction resumes on the International Space Station.

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Hoshide and Pesquet used the iROSA support frame to replace a floating potential measurement unit, or FPMU, with a broken power supply. The instrument, which is immediately inboard of the station's left-side solar arrays, measures the station's charges due to its contact with the space plasma atmosphere.

Hoshide and Pesquet returned to the Quest airlock, locked the hatch, and began repressurization after obtaining tools and configuring their safety ropes at 3:09 p.m. ET. The spacewalk lasted six hours and 54 minutes, bringing the total time spent on the space station EVA to 1,541 hours and 54 minutes since construction began in 1998.

Rescheduled Spacewalks

Astronaut Mark Vande Hei should be joining Hoshide for the spacewalk on Sunday, CNN said. But astronomers postponed the plans when Vande Hei revealed on his Twitter that he had a pinched nerve in his neck.

Vande Hei wore the same size suit that Pesquet made three comparable spacewalks in June. Hence, NASA management opted to substitute Vande Hei with Pesquet to bring the spacewalk footage returned to Earth on a SpaceX Dragon cargo ship as scheduled at the end of September.

The agency also offered an update on the earlier this week finding of smoke aboard the space station.

A Russian spacewalk went ahead as planned on Thursday while the space station crew was woken by a fire alarm at 10 p.m. ET Wednesday night.

After sensors detected smoke in the Russian Zvezda module, the alarm went out for a minute. The stench of burning plastic and smoke could also be seen in the US sections of the space station.

CNN said the crew reacted promptly, changed air filters, cleaned the environment, and all indications of smoke vanished. The source of the smoke, however, was unknown at the time.

The topic has been investigated by Russian cosmonauts, who think they have identified a link. They had a piece of equipment running in the module that was switched off after a while. The odor went away after that.

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