ISS astronauts complete system upgrade

ISS astronauts complete system upgrade

The current ISS crew, after their second spacewalk, has completed a four-year effort to upgrade the International Space Station’s power system.

Over the weekend, flight controllers in Houston used the station’s big robotic arm to replace the last pair of old-style batteries with one of better quality. Astronauts Mike Hopkins and Victor Glover needed to make the final changes to this latest lithium-ion battery system to complete a series of spacewalks to upgrade the station’s entire circuitry, which began in 2017.

The space station is now equipped with 24 lithium-ion batteries to store the energy collected by the solar panels. The large square batteries, each weighing more than 180 kilograms, provide electricity to the orbiting laboratory when it is on the night side of Earth. They are so powerful that they need half as many as the old nickel-hydrogen batteries.

The upgrade took longer than expected because one of the new batteries failed after being installed two years ago and had to be replaced. A total of 14 spacewalks were required to complete the battery work.