NASA astronauts embark on 236th spacewalk at International Space Station

International Space Station astronauts have begun their fourth spacewalk of 2021

Astronauts from NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) have embarked on the year's fourth spacewalk to service the International Space Station (ISS). 

NASA TO PROVIDE FIRST UPDATE ON PERSEVERANCE ROVER SINCE LANDING

NASA flight engineer Kate Rubins and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi exited the station on Friday shortly after 6:30 a.m. ET in a continuation of the effort to ready the station for solar array upgrades.

Four pairs of solar panels soak up the sun’s energy to provide electrical power to ISS systems and the arrays are now showing signs of degradation after operating for decades.

The panels are designed for a 15-year service life and the first pair was deployed in December 2000, with additional pairs delivered in 2006, 2007 and 2009.

Rubins and Noguchi will spend 6.5 hours outside the ISS to complete several tasks including venting ammonia from the Early Ammonia System and installing a "stiffener" device on the Quest airlock thermal cover.

The Expedition 64 crew members will also replace a Wireless Video System External Transceivers Assembly (WETA) and conduct cable routing for the Bartolomeo platform Parking Position Interface (PAPOS) -- an external payload hosting platform -- on the station's science laboratory known as the Columbus module.

The work to install solar array modification kits began during Sunday’s spacewalk, when Rubins and NASA astronaut Victor Glover jumpstarted the process. 

"The new solar arrays, which will be delivered to the space station on upcoming SpaceX Dragon cargo missions, are a larger version of the Roll-Out Solar Array (ROSA) technology and will ultimately increasing the station’s total available power from 160 kilowatts to up to 215 kilowatts," NASA said in a blog post.

Rubins arrived at the space station on Oct. 14, 2020 and Noguchi arrived in November as part of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission.

This marks the fourth career spacewalk for each astronaut.

CLICK HERE FOR THE FOX NEWS APP

NASA's live coverage of the 236th spacewalk can be viewed on NASA Television, the NASA app and the agency's website.