• This Wednesday, the French astronaut is making his first extra-vehicular outing since his return aboard the ISS on April 24.

  • During 6:30, the French will work on the installation of solar panels with the American Shane Kimbrough to boost the energy production capacity of the ISS.

  • This extra-vehicular outing is a real physical and technical challenge, it will be the third for the Frenchman who will be in the space vacuum again this Sunday to continue the installation.

It's an extra-vehicular outing, but above all extraordinary.

Arrived aboard the International Space Station on April 24, astronaut Thomas Pesquet has just stepped outside this Wednesday.

Four years after his first two experiences, the Frenchman has found space again.

For the third time in his life, he is going to live his “dream within a dream”, which is not, however, a walk in the park 400 km above the floor of the cows.

It is even rather a very, very long marathon that he will experience over the next six hours, alongside the American Shane Kimbrough.

After waking up around 8:30 am, having a good breakfast, they attacked a long day.

And it started with a connection to pure oxygen for decompression sickness.

Then, a long time of dressing ensued, tedious, to put on a thermal regulation suit, then the diving suit, before installing the instrument "Safer", which would allow them to steer if ever their cable should come to light. break.

At around 1:30 p.m., they entered the ISS airlock, before it opened nearly 45 minutes later.

“A 6-hour outing is said to be like running a 6-hour marathon, a big cycling stage of the same duration, it represents a significant energy expenditure,” explains Sébastien Rouquette, head of parabolic flights at CNES.

Outings that the astronauts have repeated several times in swimming pools.

Beyond the pace, there are also the difficulties of working in a diving suit and wearing gloves that are far from being as thin as those of a surgeon.

Clinging to the International Space Station, the two astronauts will take out their DIY equipment to install new solar panels.

A complex operation that they will renew on Sunday.

Boost the capacities of solar panels

Today, the ISS has eight solar panels with a total area of ​​2,500 m2.

The oldest were installed at the end of 2000 and they can produce up to 160 kilowatts of power, which allows the station to be supplied with energy.

The new panels will make it possible to boost this power by 20 to 30%.

👨‍🚀 Program of the day for @astro_kimbrough and me: we go out into the void, I will be transported by a robotic arm holding solar panels 3m long, we will plug them in ⚡ and return to the @space_station 6h30 later .

See you tonight 👋

⏯ https://t.co/F9tPIBmyVN pic.twitter.com/3G5Cn4U3o2

- Thomas Pesquet (@Thom_astro) June 16, 2021

In the role of chief engineer this time around, he will deploy the solar panels on the port side of the International Space Station. Delivered on June 5 by Space X's Dragon freighter, they were already attached to the outside of the ship, rolled up on themselves. Thomas Pesquet is going to retrieve this large baggage of 350 kg, and thanks to a robotic arm manipulated from the ISS by Megan McArthur, he will move them over 20 meters. Then, the two men, held by the feet, will take turns to carry the panels at arm's length, to the end of the Station where they will be unfolded before being fixed and manually connected to the general system.

“This connection to the general system can only be done during the eclipse, which lasts about 45 minutes,” explains Sébastien Rouquette of CNES.

Once in place, the panels will span six meters wide and 19 meters long.

A mission which is not without danger but which is ultra-secure and takes place under the watchful eye of the other astronauts remaining inside the ISS.

In 2013, the Italian Luca Parmitano had to return on board urgently, the cooling system of his suit had flowed into the ventilation system.


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