Astronauts Kate Rubins and Soichi Noguchi conduct 4th career spacewalk

Astronauts Kate Rubins and Soichi Noguchi conduct 4th career spacewalk

The fourth spacewalk of 2021 is also the fourth spacewalk of two astronauts’ careers as they venture outside of the International Space Station Friday.

Kate Rubins, a NASA astronaut, and Soichi Noguchi, a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut, began their spacewalk at 6:37 a.m. ET. It is expected to last for six-and-a-half hours and is streaming live on NASA’s website.

The spacewalk will assist with a continuation of upgrades for the orbiting laboratory.

Rubins just conducted a spacewalk alongside fellow NASA astronaut Victor Glover Jr. on Sunday. Prior to that, her previous two spacewalks occurred during her first rotation on the space station in 2016.

Noguchi has had to wait a little longer to add a fourth spacewalk to his career. He previously conducted three spacewalks during his shuttle flight in 2005 to help with repairs to the space station.

Rubins is crew member 1 in the red-striped suit and Noguchi is crew member 2 in the stripeless suit. The new high-definition helmet camera on Rubin’s suit provides crystal clear views of the astronaut’s perspective as she works outside of the space station.

Rubins and Glover began preparation for upcoming solar array upgrades by assembling and installing modification kits on Sunday. While the station’s current solar arrays are still functioning well, they are degrading. This degradation is expected because they only have about a 15-year life and were installed in December 2000 — so they’ve outlasted the warranty, so to speak.

Brand-new solar arrays will be placed in front of six of the arrays currently on the station later this year, boosting the station’s power from 160 kilowatts to 215 kilowatts, according to NASA. The solar arrays will begin launching to the space station on a SpaceX vehicle in June.

Rubins and Noguchi will finish installing solar array modification kits Friday before moving on to some other tasks, including venting ammonia used in the space station’s thermal control system to minimize risk of release in the ISS atmosphere.

This is the 236th spacewalk in the history of the station.