Astronauts aboard ISS will be conducting two spacewalks in January. The spacewalk has been scheduled for a complex augmentation of the orbital’s power system as per a statement issued by NASA.
NASA has delivered six new Lithium Ion batteries to the ISS early this month. The crew will install the adaptor sheet and connect the circuits in an unscheduled spacewalk next month. The first spacewalk will be conducted by Shane Kimbrough and Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson of NASA on 6th January 2017. The next spacewalk is scheduled for 13th January, under the leadership of Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency.
The actual changing of the old batteries which number 12 and are of the older Nickel–Hydrogen variety will be replaced by the robotic arm in a series of operation. Nine batteries will be stowed cargo resupply craft and will be disposed of while the remaining three will remain on the main truss but will be disconnected from the main power grid of the ISS.
Earlier Expedition 46 Commander Scot Kelly and Flight Engineer Tim Kopra conducted an unscheduled spacewalk to move the mobile transporter car so that the docking of the Russian resupply spacecraft can go without a hitch. The mobile transporter became stuck on December 17 after it moved a couple of inches forcing the mission control to order a spacewalk to remove the hitch. The mobile transporter is crucial for positioning the Canadian Robotic arm. The cause of the stall is still being investigated.
Kelly will conduct his third spacewalk while it will be the second rendezvous for Kopra who had arrived at the Station on December 15th. Kelly will be wearing the suit with red stripes while Kopra wore the plain suit.