NASA astronauts Anne McClain and Nick Hague are set to work for 6.5 hours today on the ISS's exterior. McClain will be designated extravehicular crewmember 1 (EV 1), wearing the suit with red stripes.
The batteries store power generated by the station's solar arrays to provide power to the station when the station is not in the sunlight, as it orbits the Earth during orbital night.
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NASA first started replacing batteries on the ISS in 2017. Women have been doing spacewalks since 1984, but always in the company of men.
"We go through a sunrise-sunset about every 90 minutes on station, so we don't have the benefit of having the sun all the time", said Mary Lawrence, the spacewalk flight director for the upcoming EVAs. The old nickel-hydrogen batteries powering the station have lost some of their punch since being installed, so they are being replaced with newer, more powerful lithium-ion batteries.
These new batteries provide an improved power capacity for operations with a lighter mass and a smaller volume than the nickel-hydrogen batteries. "But the space station, it's been up here for 20 years, and it's time to do some upgrades on the outside, and we are ready". As a result, just one lithium-ion battery is needed to replace two of the nickel-hydrogen ones. McCain and Koch will tackle the power channel 2A battery swap outs next Friday.