Two astronauts spent their weekend equipping the International Space Station with the first in a series of powerful new solar panels.

It took two spacewalks for French astronaut Thomas Pesquet and NASA astronaut Colonel (retired) Shane Kimbrough to install and unfurl the solar panel to its full 19 metres in length.

“Remember: You are butterflies with biceps today,” astronaut Megan McArthur radioed from inside.

After pushing and tugging, the spacewalkers managed to unfold and align the solar panel.

Their shout of “woo-hoo!” was met with applause in Mission Control.

“Well done, both of you. That was great to see,” Mission Control replied once the operation was complete.

As the six-and-a-half-hour spacewalk concluded, Colonel Kimbrough, who has three children, wished “happy Father’s Day” to all the flight controller dads.

The two had to wait until they were back on the night side of Earth — and the station’s 20-year-old existing solar panels were no longer soaking up sunlight and generating power — before being able to safely make the final power connections.

This new solar wing will give the aging station a much-needed electrical boost, as space tourism draws near.

The space station needs the re-energising provided by the new solar panels if NASA hopes to keep the space station running the rest of this decade, with private guests paying millions of dollars to come aboard.

A Russian film crew is scheduled to launch to the orbiting outpost later this year from Kazakhstan, followed by a string of rich businesspeople.

 

Article originally published by ABC News


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