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Watch two astronauts take a spacewalk to give the ISS a power upgrade

March 22, 2019

Even the International Space Station batteries need an upgrade once in a while.

The details: The battery change is being carried out by two NASA astronauts, first-time spacewalkers Anne McClain and Nick Hague. Some prep work was done in advance using the station’s robotic arm, so on the actual walk they will put in adapter plates and do some electrical work for three of the new batteries. The walk began at 8:01 Friday morning and will last for 6.5 hours. This marks the 214th spacewalk at the station. You can watch the walk here while it’s under way.

Why it’s needed: You know how frustrating it is when your phone won’t hold a charge anymore? Well, the same thing happens to space station batteries. 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. The new batteries are much more efficient, meaning only one will be needed to replace two of the old batteries, and they will give power storage capacity a boost.

What’s next: This makes McClain only the 13th woman to perform a spacewalk, and later this month she will participate in the first all-woman spacewalk. For that one, she will be joined by fellow astronaut Christina Koch; they will perform similar work on the other side of the station.

Want to keep up with space tech news? You can sign up for The Airlock, our space newsletter, here.

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