The International Space Station was supposed to get a major upgrade Wednesday, but technical delays during the spacewalk prevented astronauts from having enough time to install a new set of solar panels, according to NASA.
During the nearly seven-hour “space walk,” NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet were to install the first two of six deployable solar panels on the outside of the ISS. The new set of iROSA batteries will upgrade six of the eight power channels on the ISS.
But the astronauts ran into a few problems this time. After about three hours of spacewalking, Kimbrough lost data on his spacesuit display and had to return to the space station’s airlock to reset the system and get it back online. Then there was a brief pressure spike in Kimbro’s space suit, which soon stabilized but took time.
After the astronauts moved the solar panels to the mounting bracket, one panel did not align when it opened. The astronauts took photos for the ground teams to evaluate, and they didn’t have enough time to complete the final steps to install the electrical cables and the last two bolts that would allow the solar panels to unfold.
The astronauts were then ordered to put the array back together and “secure it in place in a safe configuration,” where it would remain until the next exit.
Although the current solar panels on the space station are still functioning, they have been powering the space station for more than 20 years and are showing some signs of wear and tear