Space Station Panels Unfurled, Despite Threat of 'Stiction'

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 20, 2009 2:45 PM CDT
The final truss for the International Space Station being extracted from the Space Shuttle's cargo bay.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Astronauts on the International Space Station successfully unfurled the last of the craft’s solar panels today, despite the chronic problem of “stiction,” ABC reports. Stiction is, predictably, the engineering term for things sticking together. When panels have had trouble opening in the past, spacemen have resorted to everything from rattling the delicate devices to exercising inside the station to shake them loose.

For the final wings, which will bring the station up to full power, NASA devised a more clever approach. After they were installed, the ISS was maneuvered so they stayed constantly in the sun’s light, warming them so they could unfold with ease. “We’ve had a good day,” Mission Control told the orbiting astronauts. The arrays can now power the equivalent of 30 terrestrial homes.