On April 28, 2021, NASA astronaut Steve Bowen and UAE astronaut Sultan Alneyadi successfully finished a 7-hour spacewalk to set up the International Space Station (ISS) for the addition of new solar arrays. The mission was a part of a string of spacewalks to install new International Space Station Roll-Out Solar Arrays (iROSAs) that would improve the ISS's power systems.
The spacewalk was started by the astronauts at 9:11 a.m. EDT and ended at 4:12 p.m. EDT. In preparation for the installation of the subsequent pair of iROSAs, wires were laid and insulation was put on the station's starboard truss during the operation. The mission was a major success for the ISS program despite certain difficulties, like a delayed operation to release a damaged communications antenna.
Future robotic and human exploration efforts, including lunar trips under NASA's Artemis program, depend on the installation of additional iROSAs. The ISS now has a dependable and long-lasting power source thanks to the new solar arrays, which are lighter, more effective, and simpler to install than the existing solar panels.
US and UAE scientists Bowen and Alneyadi worked collaboratively to enhance space exploration technologies during the successful spacewalk. It was Bowen's ninth spacewalk and the first for an astronaut from the UAE.
The six-month science mission for Bowen and Alneyadi, who are living and working aboard the ISS to advance scientific understanding and showcase new technology, included more than just installing the new iROSAs.
The mission's overall success serves as a testament to the value of international cooperation in advancing space exploration as well as to the crucial role that solar power will play in sustaining future missions.