The International Space Station (ISS) has just got a brand new set of batteries after 18 years with the installations carried out by Expedition 50 crew members over the course of a 6.5 hour exercise.
The team installed adapter plates and electrical connections necessary for three of six new lithium-ion batteries to be installed on the International Space Station. The 6.5 hour work was the first of two spacewalks planned to finalize the installation of the lithium-ion batteries, which will replace 12 of the space station’s nickel hydrogen (Ni-H2) energy storage units. The second spacewalk will occur on Friday, January 13.
Using ISS’s Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator (SPDM), or Dextre for short mission scientists on Earth remotely and removed the nickel-hydrogen batteries and installed the new lithium-ion units on the starboard-4 truss over the Xmas/New Year period, ready for the astronauts to wrap up the commissioning work.
Three additional new lithium-ion batteries flown to the ISS aboard the HTV will be robotically installed in the starboard truss’ 1A power channel Integrated Electronics Assembly between Friday’s spacewalk and a second spacewalk scheduled Jan. 13 for Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough and Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency. Five additional nickel-hydrogen batteries will be removed robotically from the IEA prior to the second spacewalk.
NASA says that their overall target is to use twenty-four of the Aerojet Rocketdyne lithium-ion batteries equipped with monitoring and safety features to replace all 48 Ni-H2 batteries. The old batteries have been stowed on an external pallet for disposal when the H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV), which delivered the new batteries, is deorbited and burns up in the Earth’s atmosphere.
The batteries will be charged by ISS’s solar arrays, which consists of 262,400 solar cells covering an area of approximately 2,500 square meters. Combined, the four sets of arrays have a maximum 120 kilowatts of electricity generation capacity. The energy storage units will have a service life of around 10 years. When the ISS is exposed to sunlight, around 60 per cent of the electricity generated by the solar energy system is used to charge the station’s batteries.