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Russian astronauts connect new lab module to station power system


On Friday, two Russian astronauts connected a new lab module to the International Space Station’s power grid, routing and plugging in eight cables to tap into electricity produced by NASA’s solar power system.

Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrovnik were around an hour late to hook up two bundles of cables between the newly arrived Nauka lab module and the US segment of the station, prompting Russian flight controllers to postpone a few lower priority tasks.

But the main goal of the spacewalk was achieved: all eight power cables were successfully connected, along with a partial connection of an Ethernet cable, connecting Nauka to the shared power and internet systems. from the station.

Russian astronauts connect new lab module to station power system
Cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy works outside the International Space Station to electrically connect a new Russian lab module to the outpost. This photo was captured by a helmet camera used by teammate Pyotr Dubrovnik.

NASA television


“All the connectors were connected properly,” Russian flight control told astronauts after tests confirmed that the first set of cables were working properly.

“Great! Thank you very much for your confirmation,” replied one of the cosmonauts.

It was also confirmed that the second set of cables was correctly connected and powered.

The excursion began at 10:41 a.m. EDT when Novitskiy and Dubrovnik opened the outer hatch of the Poisk airlock to launch the 242nd spacewalk in space station history, the 10th so far this year and the second for the two cosmonauts.

The Nauka module arrived at the station on July 29, docking at the Earth-facing port of the Russian Zvezda module at the rear of the space station. Unexpected thruster shots after bonding briefly brought the station out of its normal orientation, but the issue was fixed without damaging the complex.

The US and Russian segments of the station share the same computer network and solar power system, and the first of 11 Russian spacewalks to equip the new lab module was dedicated to connecting Nauka to the existing power grid. .

The work required close cooperation between NASA and Russian flight controllers to ensure that power was removed on various circuits while cosmonauts made the required connections. Although the job took longer than expected, there were no major issues.

But installing three space exposure experiments, attaching two spacewalk handrails on Nauka, and dropping a no longer needed Ethernet cable reel have been postponed for a future outing. in the space. Novitskiy and Dubrovnik returned to the Poisk airlock and closed the hatch at 6:35 p.m., officially ending the sortie within 7 hours and 54 minutes.

Cosmonauts plan to venture outside next Thursday to perform the second in Nauka’s series of spacewalks, including at least some of the tasks that were postponed during Friday’s outing.

Then, if all goes well, Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet are planning a spacewalk themselves three days later to prepare for the installation of a second set. new solar panels as part of a long-planned power system upgrade.

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