| CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. Jan 13 Two astronauts
floated outside the International Space Station on Friday for a
6-1/2-hour spacewalk to replace aging batteries for the
laboratory's solar power system, an upgrade needed to keep the
outpost running into the next decade, NASA said.
U.S. astronaut Shane Kimbrough left the station's airlock at
about 6:30 a.m. EST (1130 GMT) to begin his second spacewalk
this month. He was joined minutes later by French crew mate
Thomas Pesquet, a rookie astronaut making his first spacewalk.
The men are continuing work started during a spacewalk
earlier this month to hook up an array of 428-pound (194 kg)
lithium-ion battery packs, which are about the size of a small
refrigerator, to the station's solar power system. They replace
nickel-hydrogen batteries that are losing the ability to hold a
The first six of the new 24 lithium-ion batteries arrived at
the station aboard a Japanese HTV cargo ship in December. The
remaining 18 new lithium-ion battery packs will be flown to the
station on future Japanese resupply missions.
Nine of the old batteries will be loaded aboard the cargo
ship that will depart the station later this month and burn up
in the atmosphere. Three defunct batteries will be stored
outside the station.
The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration
expects it will take about three years to complete the space
station's power system upgrade, which will keep it operational
until at least 2024.
Before this month's spacewalks, ground control teams used
the station's robotic arm to move the new batteries into
position and remove the old ones. This robotics work cut the
number of spacewalks needed for the project from six to two,
The solar-powered station draws power from the batteries
when it flies in darkness, circling about 250 miles (400 km)
The space station, which is about the size of a five-bedroom
house, is a $100 billion research laboratory, owned and operated
by 16 nations.
(Editing by Letitia Stein and Bill Trott)