This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

November 07, 2007

Shuttle Astronaut Mends the Space Station's Solar Array

Two rips discovered last week in one of the solar arrays for the International Space Station (ISS) were mended on Saturday, November 3rd, allowing a full deployment of the array. The array had been folded into a box like an accordion, and when it was extended to 80% of its full length on Tuesday, October 30th, it developed the two tears. Fortunately, none of the electrical connections in the array were disturbed, as it was producing 97% of its full power capacity, despite still being partially furled.

Photo of a person in a space suit attached to a platform on the end of a pole and suspended over a solar array. The array, in folds like an accordion, has three metal wires in it that span across a damaged section.

Astronaut Scott Parazynski added several wires to the International Space Station's solar array on November 3rd to bridge a damaged area.
Credit: NASA

To address the structural concerns caused by the rips, space shuttle astronaut Scott Parazynski went on a spacewalk to insert into the array metal wires that span the damaged section. Parazynski also cut a snagged wire that apparently caused the tears, after which the array was successfully deployed to its full length. The astronaut's repair work was devised in a round-the-clock effort by the ground crews at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and his spacewalk lasted 7 hours and 19 minutes. Meanwhile, NASA has yet to resolve the apparent damage to the joint that turns the starboard solar arrays. The space shuttle Discovery is scheduled to land in Florida on Wednesday, November 6th. See the October 30th and November 3rd status reports from NASA.