The spacewalks will help with the continuation of improvements for the space station orbiting the Earth. Rubins and Glover are NASA astronauts and Noguchi is an astronaut with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.
Coverage for the February 28 spacewalk will begin at 4:30 a.m. ET, and the astronauts are expected to begin their walk at 6 a.m. ET. Coverage of the March 5 spacewalk will begin at 5:30 a.m. ET, with astronauts expecting to exit the hatch around 7 a.m. ET.
If that Sunday spacewalk seems like it predates previous spacewalks, especially since it happens on the weekend, well, is. But “it’s not really a Monday-Friday program,” Kenny Todd, deputy program director for the International Space Station, recalled during a news conference Wednesday.
These will be the 235th and 236th spacewalks in the station’s history.
For the first spacewalk, Rubins and Glover will pair up to prepare for the next solar panel upgrades by assembling and installing mod kits. While the station’s current solar panels are still working fine, they are degrading. This degradation is expected because they only have a lifespan of about 15 years and were installed in December 2000, so they have outgrown the warranty, so to speak.
New solar panels will be placed in front of six of those currently on the station later this year, increasing the station’s power from 160 kilowatts to 215 kilowatts, according to NASA. Solar panels will begin launching to the space station in a SpaceX vehicle in June.
During the spacewalk on February 28, Rubins will be Crew Member 1 in the red striped suit, and Glover will be Crew Member 2 in a non-striped suit.
Rubins and Noguchi will pair up for the March 5 spacewalk to complete a number of tasks, including venting ammonia from the early ammonia system, replacing a wireless video transceiver assembly, and installing a “booster” on the heated cover of the Quest airlock. This will prevent the lid from coming off when the atmosphere escapes when the hatch is opened.
Glover started working on this during his last spacewalk by adding a stronger magnet to keep the cover closed.
Rubins will be Crew Member 1 in the red striped suit on March 5, and Noguchi will be Crew Member 2 in the un-striped suit.
All three of the crew are veteran spacewalkers at this time. Glover has already done two spacewalks since arriving at the space station in November. This will be the third.
Rubins previously conducted spacewalks during his first rotation on the space station in 2016, so these will be his third and fourth spacewalks. And Noguchi will add a fourth spacewalk to his career; he previously conducted three spacewalks during his shuttle flight in 2005 to assist with space station repairs.