US and French astronauts complete ISS spacewalk to install solar panels

The pair will complete the installation of a second solar-panel array on Friday

A pair of astronauts from France and the US completed a six-hour spacewalk on Sunday to install new solar panels to boost power supplies at the International Space Station, Nasa said.

French astronaut Thomas Pesquet said it was a "huge team effort" after completing the operation with his American colleague Shane Kimbrough.

Mr Pesquet is part of the European Space Agency, while Mr Kimbrough is with Nasa.

The two men, who arrived on the space station in late April, activated the internal batteries in their space suits at 11.42am GMT and opened the hatch to the ISS airlock.

They continued the work of positioning, attaching and deploying six new-generation solar panels, referred to as iROSA, which stands for roll-out solar array.

The panels, 19 metres long when fully extended, were delivered to the station this month by an unmanned SpaceX craft.

The astronauts are scheduled to complete the installation of a second solar-panel array on Friday.

The new panels, which will power daily operations and research and science projects, are expected to last for 15 years.

A first spacewalk on Wednesday was beset with several problems, notably issues with Mr Kimbrough's spacesuit.

He temporarily lost data on his display unit, and then suffered a brief sharp increase in the suit's pressure reading.

Sunday's outing was the fourth time the two astronauts had ventured into space together.

They carried out two spacewalks on a mission in 2017. They were tethered to the space station as it orbited the Earth at an altitude of 400 kilometres.

There have now been 240 ISS spacewalks as astronauts carried out the work of assembling, maintaining and upgrading the station.

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