Astronauts Wrap Up First Spacewalk of 2020

NASA astronaut Jessica Meir enters the Quest airlock
NASA astronaut Jessica Meir enters the Quest airlock to complete a spacewalk after swapping batteries that store and distribute solar power collected from the solar arrays on the International Space Station.

At 2:04 p.m. EST, Expedition 61 Flight Engineers Christina Koch and Jessica Meir of NASA concluded their spacewalk. During the 7-hour, 29-minute spacewalk, the two NASA astronauts successfully replaced nickel-hydrogen batteries with newer, more powerful lithium-ion batteries for the power channel on one pair of the station’s solar arrays. Meir and Koch are scheduled to venture outside the station again Monday, Jan. 20, for a second battery replacement spacewalk.

The astronauts were also able to accomplish a get-ahead task of relocating the an additional nickel-hydrogen battery to the external pallet in preparation for next week’s spacewalk.

This was the first spacewalk outside the station this year. Space station crew members have now conducted 225 spacewalks in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory. Spacewalkers have spent a total of 58 days, 23 hours, and 12 minutes working outside the station. It is the second time all spacewalkers have been women and the 44th spacewalk to include women.

It was the second spacewalk for Meir, who now has spent a total of 14 hours and 46 minutes spacewalking, and the fifth for Koch for a total of 35 hours and 17 minutes.

Koch arrived to the orbiting laboratory in March 2019 and marked 300 days in space on Jan. 9. She currently holds the record for longest single spaceflight by a woman and will return to Earth on Feb. 6 from an extended duration mission of 11 months in space. Her extended missions provides researchers the opportunity to observe effects of long-duration spaceflight on a woman to prepare for human missions to the Moon and Mars. Meir arrived in Sept. 2019 and is due to return in April.

Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog, @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

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