Spacewalking Cosmonauts Ready Station for Future Russian Science Module
Cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Anton Shkaplerov, center right, are dwarfed by the outside of the International Space Station as they move along an the slender arm of an outstretched cargo crane. Photo Credit/NASA TV
Spacewalking cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Anton Shkaplerov prepared the International Space Station for the future arrival of a Russian science module during a sometimes difficult excursion on Thursday.
The six hour outing was the first for a space station crew since August.
The two men fell nearly two hours behind schedule as they struggled with safety tethers, cold temperatures in their suits and other obstacles.
Yet, at the end of their six hour spacewalk, they managed to accomplish their primary task, the relocation of an external cargo crane, called Strela 1, from the station’s Pirs module to the Poisk compartment. Both are part of the orbital lab’s Russian segment.
The Strela re-location was deferred during an Aug. 3 spacewalk, when two other cosmonauts ran out of time.
Russiaplans to jettison the 10-year-old Pirs airlock and docking compartment so that it can be replaced with the larger Multipurpose Laboratory Module in mid-2013.
Kononenko and Shkaplerov uprooted the Strela 1, a hand operated cargo crane used to move bulky equipment and even spacewalking cosmonauts around the outside of the station, folded the telescoping device and tethered it to Strela 2, a second crane. They used Strela 2 to hoist and relocate the first crane on Poisk.
When they fell behind schedule,Moscow’s Mission Control deferred the excursion’s second primary task, the installation of five orbital debris panels on the outside of the station’s Zvezda module.
Svezda serves as the station’s Russian nerve center. The panels, which will be installed on a future spacewalk, are designed to lower the risk that a small meteoroid or piece of man made orbital debris might penetrate the station.