The Iowa woman who’s now commander of the International Space Station is facing a host of serious challenges this week. A fragile 115-foot-long solar wing ripped as it was being unfurled for the first time on the Space Station on Tuesday.
Commander Peggy Whitson, a Beaconsfield native, says even with the two-and-a-half foot tear, the wing can still provide some power but is badly damaged and may demand a spacewalk for repairs.
A few days ago, another problem surfaced on the orbiting station: the giant gears that turn a solar array to face the sun are gummed up with steel shavings. The mechanism’s been locked down until another spacewalk on Thursday. For now, Whitson says the station’s occupants aren’t in jeopardy but power generation will be limited.