They will conduct a second similar spacewalk on July 1.
The walks will begin at 7:35 am ET. Starting at 6 am ET, NASA will provide live coverage of each.
Both astronauts are veteran spacewalkers. This will be Cassidy’s seventh adventure outside and Behnken’s eighth.
These spacewalks are the culmination of a series of power upgrades that started in January 2017 to replace nickel-hydrogen batteries with new lithium-ion batteries. The new batteries arrived last month on a Japanese cargo ship.
These two spacewalks will focus on replacing the batteries in one of the power channels in the station’s starboard frame.
This task, however, is nothing. how to replace the batteries in your remote control. These batteries are large, based on animation that NASA shared in a tweet. Astronauts will make several round trips along the truss to remove and replace each battery, using foot restraints to help maintain their position and hand tools for adjustments.
For both spacewalks, Cassidy will be a member of crew I and will wear a red striped space suit, while Behnken will serve as a crew member II in a non-striped suit. Hurley and Russian cosmonaut Ivan Vagner will help Cassidy and Behnken put on their space suits. Hurley will operate the station’s robotic arm to support one of the two spacewalks.
The battery replacements, which will have a 20-year lifespan, will put the station in a much better configuration in the long term, Kenneth Todd, deputy director of the International Space Station program, said during a NASA press conference on Wednesday.
Future summer spacewalks will replace the batteries in a second power channel.
Behnken recently discussed the spacewalk, and why it’s important to replace batteries, during a call to CNN space and innovation journalist Rachel Crane’s space station.
“When the space station is in the sun, it is collecting energy and needs to store it when it is in the dark,” he said. “And those batteries, as they are recycled over and over again, wear out and need to be replaced. And periodically, maintenance is required.”
Behnken said he is expecting another spacewalk experience.
“I really look forward to the views of Earth when we have a spare moment,” he said. “I think every astronaut, when they go out on their first spacewalk, is really focused on trying to do all the activities and do a good job so that they can get a chance to do another one if the opportunity arises.
“But after you’ve made a couple and know what to expect as you drive through it, it’s important, you know, to take some mental photographs, some mental images, or remember what it was like to be outside.”
In the meantime, what has become of the Endeavor spacecraft, which brought Behnken and Hurley to the space station in late May? The spacecraft, NASA reported, has been docked with the space station for three and a half weeks and “is working extremely well as we test it,” said Steve Stich, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
They have tested the spacecraft’s safe-haven ability, meaning that if there’s a problem on the space station, astronauts can stay in the vehicle and use it for 24 hours without any supplies from the space station.
Next, the astronauts will test habitability aboard the spacecraft to see how four astronauts can sleep and use the systems when the vehicle carries four astronauts, instead of two.
The planning of the spacewalks will affect when the Endeavor spacecraft returns to Earth carrying Behnken and Hurley. NASA is currently considering a return date of August 2.
Another Crew Dragon spacecraft, called the Crew-1, will carry four more astronauts to the space station in the future: NASA astronauts Victor Glover Jr., Michael Hopkins, Shannon Walker and Japan’s Soichi Noguchi.
Crew-1 is undergoing system checks on Earth. It has more capabilities than Endeavor and will be able to dock on top of the space station.
“We are in a good position to launch Crew-1 later this year,” Stich said.
The NASA team estimated that it will take six weeks between Endeavor’s return and the launch of Crew-1 to review the data. NASA is currently targeting a launch later this year.