NASA: Space station work 81% complete as solar arrays unfurled
New solar arrays will double power to science experiments and double the crew capacity
In a spacewalk yesterday, astronauts Steve Swanson and Richard Arnold worked with a robotic arm, dubbed "Canadarm," to get the S6 truss that will hold the arrays maneuvered into place and bolted onto the space station. From inside Discovery today, the astronauts sent instructions to the truss to unfurl the attached solar arrays, which are 230 feet long when spread open and weigh nearly 5,000 pounds on Earth.
The solar arrays are designed to gather energy through 32,800 solar cells and then transfer that power through the truss to the space station's batteries. Unfurled and with data and power cables attached and tested, the arrays are expected to begin delivering energy to the space station sometime today, according to Debbie Nguyen, a spokeswoman for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Nguyen said there was a holdup with the unfurling process when one of the 30 solar panels stuck to another panel. The astronauts, however, waited about 30 minutes while the heat of the sun warmed the arrays and pulled them apart.
With the truss and solar arrays in place, the space station now is 81% complete, according to Nguyen.
She added that the solar arrays will produce enough energy to power 42 2,800-square-feet homes. That will double the amount of power that goes to science experiments onboard the station.
It also means that the space station can now support a crew of six to eight astronauts. Right now, there is a crew of three aboard the station, but that number will be bumped up to six later this year because of the extra energy capacity, said Nguyen.
"This was a vital piece of hardware we installed today," she added. "It was vital for this mission."
The space shuttle Discovery docked with the space station on Tuesday afternoon.
NASA said that a robotic arm on the space shuttle, as well as one on the space station, played critical roles in yesterday's installation of the truss. Mike Curie, a spokesman for NASA, told Computerworld on Thursday that the astronauts simply couldn't have done the work without the use of robotics.
"We rely heavily on the combination of robotics and astronauts to accomplish these tasks," said Curie. "Without Canadarm 2 and the original Canadarm on the shuttle, we wouldn't be able to move these heavy objects. We would never be able to complete the space shuttle without these robotics. They're essential to the construction of the International Space Station."
Last fall, NASA said the future of space exploration will depend on humans and robots working hand in hand as manned and unmanned missions head back to the moon and to Mars and farther expanses of space.
Read more about Government IT in Computerworld's Government IT Topic Center.
This pilot fish is a contractor at a military base, working on some very cool fire-control systems for tanks. But when he spots something obviously wrong during a live-fire test, he can't get the firing-range commander's attention.
- IT Certification Study Tips
- Register for this Computerworld Insider Study Tip guide and gain access to hundreds of premium content articles, cheat sheets, product reviews and more.
- Reduce federal infrastructure risk with compliance management and situational awareness
- IBM continuous monitoring and management solutions deliver real-time situational awareness to help federal agencies understand vulnerabilities, and protect the infrastructure.
- The Business Value of Continuous Delivery
- Download this whitepaper to learn more about the business value of Continuous Delivery and see why it could be a game changer for...
- Ten Factors Shaping the Future of Application Delivery
- Download this research report conducted by Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) to learn how those that are seeking to accelerate application delivery are leveraging...
- Software Asset Management: Ensuring Today's Assets
- Today's trends like BYOD and SaaS are new and exciting in terms of how they will help make our jobs more productive but...
- Trends Shaping Software Management: 2014
- Most IT executives recognize the relationship between mobile computing and worker productivity, and have long issued notebook computers and other mobile devices to... All Government IT White Papers
- On-demand webinar - 7 Keys to Service Catalog Implementation Success Watch this webinar to learn 7 crucial keys to make your service catalog a success!
- Transform Your IT Service Management Watch this webinar, to learn how EasyVista can increase IT productivity & efficiency and deliver streamlined & integrated IT Service & Asset Mgmt.
- IBM FlashSystem V840: Leveraging Software-Defined Flash to Drive Your Business With end-to-end, tightly integrated functionality and super-fast flash technology, products like IBM FlashSystem V840 Enterprise Performance Solution empower businesses to leverage the efficiency...
- Leveraging Flash Storage to Accelerate Oracle Real Application Clusters Join this webinar to understand the latest solid-state storage trends, the specific applications driving solid-state storage deployments and the benefits of deploying the...
- Top 4 Digital Signage Fails Join RMG Networks for a look at four of the most common reasons digital signage fails in corporate businesses. Learn about strategies to...
- All Government IT Webcasts