Today, astronauts aboard the International Space Station are seeing their hard work being paid off. Late Friday morning the team aboard the orbiting outpost pushed a button that commanded one of the solar wings to begin unfolding. The 115-foot wing will take several hours to unfold according to NASA.
The team members aboard the ISS watched intently as the wing began to unfold with their finger on the abort button in case something goes wrong. In 2007 during the same procedure a wing ripped and they do not want another occurrence of that incident.
The deploy of the Starboard 6 (S6) 1B solar array wings resumed at 11: 46 a.m. EDT and finished at 11:52 a.m. There were no difficulties encountered, and the crew and Mission Control report the array appears to have extended outwards 115 feet. At about 12:30 p.m., the 3B array on the other side of S6 will be extended in the same fashion, with a pause halfway through to allow heat from the Sun to reduce the chance of panels sticking. Once the 3B wing is unfurled on the other side, the entire array will measure 240 feet, tip to tip, including the truss in between.
Thursday night, the STS-119 crew members installed the $300 million S6 truss segment which supports the new solar arrays. The S6 truss completed the backbone of the station and provided one-fourth of the total power needed to support a crew of six.