The international space station is nearly at full power. This thanks to the space shuttle Discovery, which arrived with the station’s final solar panel in tote on a uniquely starry St. Patrick’s Day. The $298 million solar module will nearly double the space station’s electricity capacity.
The module contains two 45-foot solar panels which were rolled out by Discovery’s crew late last week. The massive, 115-foot module is a testament to space-based solar power and the brilliance of modern technology. Robot arms spent about two hours hooking up a huge area, which bears the energy-producing panels today.
This mission was much smoother than previous attempts, completed in less than half the time allotted by NASA mission control. The panels, which contain silicon solar cells, will produce enough electricity to power 42 three bedroom homes or, in this case, enough to support six astronauts and the experiments of the station’s three science labs.
The landmark space station, now with its full breadth of solar power, is nearing completion and is scheduled to have its full six person crew by the end of May.