Astronauts successfully complete ISS battery upgrade

Date:2 February 2021 Author: Kyro Mitchell

Changing a battery aboard the ISS is a little more complicated than changing the battery in your remote or car.

Not only do astronauts need to complete delicate tasks while wearing a bulky spacesuit, but they also need to take into consideration the fact that the ISS is orbiting around the Earth at roughly 17,500 miles per hour, which means the station enters sunlight and returns to darkness every 45 minutes.

Despite all of these factors, astronauts Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan managed to complete the vital battery upgrade, which has been an ongoing operation for over a decade now.

In 2009, the International Space Station Program conducted a preliminary risk and feasibility study to evaluate the use of lithium-ion batteries to replace the power storage system. In early 2011, the program approved the development of the new battery.  Production started in late 2014, and in December 2016, NASA began the process of replacing the ageing batteries with new lithium-ion batteries.

After four flights of the Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) cargo spacecraft and 13 different astronauts conducting 14 spacewalks, the primary power system has now been fully upgraded to lithium-ion technology.

Before the update was completed, the space station’s primary power system originally used nickel-hydrogen batteries for storage.

The lithium-ion batteries will be used to store power gathered from the station’s massive solar arrays, which will be able to power a variety of systems, including life support systems down to smaller objects like the vacuum used for cleaning.

The newly upgraded batteries will help NASA continue vital research aboard the ISS.

Now that the battery upgrade has been completed, NASA is turning its attention to the solar array augmentation. Throughout the next several years, six new solar arrays will arrive at the International Space Station aboard three SpaceX cargo spacecraft, as the original arrays are reaching the end of their 15-year lifespans. The new arrays will be installed on future spacewalks and supply the station with more than 20 kilowatts of power each.

Picture: NASA


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