The blue and gold solar arrays that give the International Space Station its distinctive wingspan are also its main source of power. They capture and convert sunlight into energy, which is stored in batteries that keep the Station running.

Later this year, these batteries will be upgraded by Dextre, thereby saving the crew from conducting several spacewalks and freeing up their time for more important tasks.

Last weekend, Dextre conducted a dry run for this important work by practicing on a failed electrical component (known as the Main Bus Switching Unit).

 Photo: NASA

Credit: Canadian Space Agency’s Facebook Account

honeycombshoney asked:

Hi there! What kind of work have you been doing up there? What kind of preliminary requirements did you have to become an astronaut? Thanks!

400 different scientific investigations since I’ve been here in addition to maintaining and operation a space station, which involved three spacewalks. You can find minimum requirements to become an astronaut here  #BeAnAstronaut


Astronaut Ed White’s Space Walk on Gemini IV, 6/03/1965

During NASA’s Gemini IV mission, Astronaut Edward White II performed the first spacewalk, or Extra Vehicular Activity (EVA), by an American fifty years ago on June 3, 1965. 

Gemini IV Mission Image - EVA, off coast of California (photo #5 above):

Astronaut Edward H. White II, pilot for the Gemini-Titan 4 space flight,floats in zero gravity of space off the coast of California. The extravehicular activity was performed during the third revolution of the Gemini 4 spacecraft. White is attached to the spacecraft by a 25-ft. umbilical line and a 23-ft. tether line,both wrapped in gold tape to form one cord. In his right hand White carries a Hand-Held Self-Maneuvering Unit (HHSMU). The visor of his helmet is gold plated to protect him from the unfiltered rays of the sun. Photo was taken on June 3,1965. G.E.T. time was 4:37 / GMT time was 19:49. Original magazine number was GEM04-16-30427, taken with a Hasselblad camera and a 70mm lens. Film type was Kodak Ektachrome MS (S.O. -217).
National Archives Identifier: 5804872

File unit:  Gemini IV. Series:  Photographs of the Mercury and Gemini Space Programs, 12/1960 - 2/1997. Records of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

From the National Archives Catalog:

thesecretlifeofyackers asked:

How much of your time is divided between maintenance, experiments, planning for future things like spacewalks, photography, life stuff (like eating etc) and down time?

We spend about 1/3 of our time doing science, 1/3 general upkeep and 1/3 maintenance and very little time for free time. 

5 Fun Things To Do Without Gravity

Astronauts onboard the International Space station are typically active for at least 9 ½ hours per day doing science, exercising and maintaining systems. Excluding scheduled time for sleep and lunch, astronauts have only 4 hours of free time during the work week, and that includes time for meals and general hygiene.

Even with a loaded calendar, the few who have such an opportunity to live in the microgravity environment find ways to make the most of this experience. Here are just a few of their favorite things about living in space: 


One of the most self-explanatory (and most fun!) aspects of living in space for the astronauts is “flying”. In space there is no up or down, so there is no floor or ceiling. There are rails throughout the space station that astronauts use to push themselves among the modules. 


Astronauts actually describe the food on the space station as quite tasty! In part, that’s because they have a large role in choosing their own meals. Over time though, a lot of astronauts experience desensitized taste buds from the shifting fluid to their head. Toward the end of their expedition, spicy foods tend to be their favorites because of this phenomenon.


Liquid behaves very differently in space than it does on Earth. Astronauts cannot simply pour a cup of coffee into a mug. Without gravity, it would stick to the walls of the cup and would be very difficult to sip. Most of the time, astronauts fill a bag with liquid and use a special straw with a clamp to keep the contents from flying out. 

Playing Games

The space station crew occasionally gets downtime which they can spend however they please. Sometimes they watch a movie, read a book or take photos of Earth from the Cupola windows. Other times they invent games to play with each other, and each crew tends to come up with new games. Sometimes it can be hitting a target, flying from one end of the station to the other fastest or playing zero-gravity sports. 

Going Out For A Walk

Preparing and executing a spacewalk can take around 8 to 12 hours, and can be a jam-packed schedule. Spacewalkers have to be focused on the task at hand and sticking to the timeline. That said, they can still catch a spare moment to see the Earth 250 miles below. Many astronauts describe that view from a spacewalk as one of the most beautiful sights in their lives. 

Watch Commander Scott Kelly and Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren perform a spacewalk on Oct. 28 at 8:15 a.m. EDT live on NASA Television

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: 


NASA astronaut Terry W. Virts aboard the ISS: “A small taste of what it’s like “outside”. Anything not tethered will float away!” March 25th, 2015.

Source: NASA/Terry W. Virts

On this day in 1965, astronaut Edward H. White II became the first American to perform Extra Vehicular Activity (EVA), also known as a spacewalk.

As a part of the Gemini 4 mission, astronauts Edward H. White II and James McDivitt were sent on a four day spaceflight, the first multi-day spaceflight by the United States. The mission’s primary objective was to evaluate the effects of prolonged spaceflight and to demonstrate that humans could remain in space for extended periods of time. It’s secondary objective was to conduct the first Extra Vehicular Activity by an American astronaut and to evaluate the ability of the Hand-Held Maneuvering Unit (HHMU), also known as the zip gun, to control the astronaut’s movement.

Edward White, who was lucky enough to perform the first spacewalk, was so enthralled by the experience that he did not want to return to the spacecraft when commanded to.

The transcript from the Gemini 4 mission plays more like a mother calling to her son playing outside to come in for dinner.

McDIVITT: They want you to get back in now.
WHITE (laughing): I’m not coming in… This is fun.
McDIVITT: Come on.
WHITE: Hate to come back to you but I’m coming
McDIVITT: Gosh, you still got three and a half more days to go, buddy
GEMINI CONTROL: You’re got about four minutes to Bermuda.
WHITE: I’m trying to…
McDIVITT: O.K. O.K. Don’t wear yourself out now. Just come in… How you doing there?
WHITE: … whenever a piece of dirt or something goes by, it always heads right for that door and goes on out.
McDIVITT: O.K., come in then.
WHITE: …aren’t you going to hold my hand?
McDIVITT: No, come on in the… Ed, come on in here!
WHITE: All right. I’ll open the door and come through there…
McDIVITT: Come on. Let’s get back in here before it gets dark.
WHITE: It’s the saddest moment of my life.
McDIVITT: Well, you’re going to find it sadder when we have to come down with this thing.

Read more about America’s first spacewalk here:

Read the full transcript of the Gemini 4 mission here:

You’re an Astronaut on a Spacewalk — and Your Helmet Is Filling With Water

Imagine you’re an astronaut. Imagine you’re on a spacewalk. Imagine, in other words, that you are whirling above the Earth at more than 17,000 miles an hour, the only thing between you and the deadly vacuum of space a padded suit, a hardened helmet, and an umbilical tether that you hope is really, really strong.

Now imagine that your helmet, suddenly, starts filling with liquid.

Read more. [Image: NASA]