International Space Station Cosmonauts Complete Record Spacewalk
August 17, 2013

International Space Station Cosmonauts Complete Record Spacewalk

Lawrence LeBlond for - Your Universe Online

Two Expedition 36 cosmonauts successfully completed the first of two planned spacewalks to prepare the International Space Station (ISS) for the future arrival of a Russian laboratory module.

During Friday’s spacewalk, Russian cosmonauts Flight Engineer Fyodor Yurchikhin and Flight Engineer Alexander Misurkin spent nearly the entire EVA (extra-vehicular activity) mission routing 120 feet of cable between two nodes.

The spacewalk was initially scheduled to last six hours and 30 minutes, but complications with unreeling the cable and securing it to hooks and handrails meant the two cosmonauts had to overstay their visit by nearly an hour, making it a record single spacewalk for a Russian EVA.

"Today we are the cable people," one of the spacewalkers commented in Russian as they neared the end of the mission.

The spacewalk, which lasted seven hours and 29 minutes, began at 10:36 a.m. EDT and officially ended at 6:05 p.m. EDT when the duo entered and closed the hatch on the Pirs docking compartment. The duo is scheduled to conduct another spacewalk next Thursday to further prepare for the Russian “Nauka” Multipurpose Laboratory Module (MLM). Nauka is meant to replace Pirs when it arrives at the Space Station later this year.

According to NASA, the duo began the EVA-172 spacewalk by first setting up a Strela cargo boom on the Poisk mini-research module. Once secured, Misurkin used the Strela to maneuver Yurchikhin with cables to the Zarya module near the Unity node. Yurchikhin then routed the cable connector and installed cables on Zarya.

While Yurchikhin continued work on Zarya, Misurkin installed an experiment panel on Poisk. He then installed two connector patch panels and gap spanners on Poisk. Once completed, Misurkin joined Yurchikhin to assist with the Ethernet cable installation work on the Zarya cargo module. The team went back and forth between Zarya and Poisk routing and installing the cable, reported NASA.

During the entire EVA, station Commander Pavel Vinogradov and Flight Engineer Chris Cassidy were isolated to the Poisk module and their Soyuz TMA-08M spacecraft. Flight Engineers Karen Nyberg and Luca Parmitano were allowed to move about in the US segment of the complex.

While Yurchikhin and Misurkin completed a record Russian spacewalk, Americans hold the record for the longest time on an EVA mission.

In March of 2001, Jim Voss and Susan Helms conducted an eight hour 56 minute spacewalk during STS-102. However, most of that EVA was registered from inside Space Shuttle Discovery’s airlock.

The previous record Russian EVA occurred in 1990, when cosmonauts spent seven hours 16 minutes working outside the Mir space station.

Friday’s EVA also occurred exactly a month after Luca Parmitano’s near-catastrophic spacewalk occurred.

Parmitano had reported feeling wetness around his head shortly after he and Chris Cassidy exited the Space Station for a scheduled six-hour EVA mission. After Cassidy reported observing water inside Parmitano’s helmet, the call was made shortly thereafter to end the mission early. Upon removing his helmet, Parmitano noted nearly a liter (quart) of water had been swimming around inside the helmet.

NASA is still investigating that incident, which could have been lethal for Parmitano if the decision had not been made to cancel the mission; it is likely that Parmitano could have drowned in space if they had not reentered the Space Station in timely fashion.

Until NASA can complete its investigation of the matter, all US spacewalks are on hold. As for the Russians, their spacesuits are different than the American made units, which Italian Space Agency’s Parmitano had been using.

Friday’s spacewalk is the third of six planned for this year. The next spacewalk is scheduled for Thursday, August 22. EVA-172 was directed by Russian Mission Control near Moscow.