Astronauts perform 3rd spacewalk this month

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (KTRK) -- Astronauts are venturing out on their third spacewalk this month to install powerful new solar panels outside the International Space Station.

France's Thomas Pesquet and NASA's Shane Kimbrough picked up where they left off last week in a mission that is expected to take six-and-a-half hours, according to NASA.

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Kimbrough and Pesquet will work on the far end of the left (port) side of the ISS's backbone truss structure to upgrade equipment.

These new solar wings are designed to roll out like a red carpet, unlike the station's old ones that unfolded like an accordion. They will give the aging station a much needed electrical boost, as demand for experiments and space tourists grows.

Two of the new solar arrays arrived aboard the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft during a resupply services mission, according to NASA.

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This first pair will augment the space station's oldest solar wings, which are degrading after 20 years of continuous operation.

SpaceX will deliver two more pairs over the next year.

Although smaller than the originals, the new solar panels can generate considerably more power. The space station needs this reenergizing if NASA hopes to keep the space station running the rest of this decade, with private guests paying millions of dollars to come aboard.

It's the 241st spacewalk in support of the space station assembly.

While Kimbrough and Pesquet work outside, NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Mark Vande Hei will work inside the space station commanding a robotic arm to assist with the tasks.
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