Spacesuit problems prevented astronauts from completing the installation Wednesday of powerful, new solar panels outside the International Space Station.
NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough encountered a pair of spacesuit issues midway through the seven-hour spacewalk, forcing him to temporarily retreat back into the airlock to reset his equipment. The interruption put Kimbrough and French astronaut Thomas Pesquet an hour behind, then they had trouble trying to unfold the solar panel’s booms before time finally ran out.
The two are supposed to venture back out Sunday. But it’s unclear whether that will be delayed, or whether the astronauts will wrap up work on the first solar panel or get started on a second one.
NASA wants to reenergize the aging space station as demand to visit grows. But there’s no urgency to do so, said Mission Control commentator Rob Navias, with the old solar panels providing plenty of power for now. They’ll continue to operate in a degraded state, even after the new ones are up and running.
Mission Control stressed that Kimbrough was safe the entire time, despite problems with his suit’s display control panel and a fleeting pressure spike in the cooling system. His control panel came back on, and Mission Control continued to monitor his suit’s cooling system.
“We just want to be super safe here,” Mission Control radioed.