Cosmonauts Wrap Up Successful 173rd Spacewalk
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
Russian cosmonauts wrapped up a nearly six-hour spacewalk outside the International Space Station (ISS) today. Expedition 36 Flight Engineers Fyodor Yurchikhin and Alexander Misurkin completed the replacement of a laser communications experiment with a new platform for a small optical camera system as well as asthe installation of new spacewalk aids.
The two men began their 5-hour, 58-minute spacewalk at 7:34 a.m. this morning, making their way towards the Zvezda service module where they carried out a combination of tasks. Yurchikhin and Misurkin attached the platform assembly to a temporary stowage location and removed the External Onboard Laser Communications System, which was installed in 2011.
While installing the camera platform, the cosmonauts noticed that its base plate was not properly aligned, so they were asked by mission controllers to hold off. However, the men were then asked to go ahead and install it after it was determined that the alignment issue could be fixed after installation. The platforms will be hosting two cameras that are scheduled to be delivered to the station aboard a Progress cargo craft in November.
Misurkin and Yurchikhin also inspected six antennas at various locations that are used to assist in providing navigation data during the rendezvous and docking of European Automated Transfer Vehicle cargo ships. During this inspection, they checked out the antenna covers and tightened any loose screws they found. Flight Engineer Chris Cassidy saw one of the covers floating away from the station on Monday, which prompted NASA to release a video about a “UFO” floating outside the station.
Misurkin collected a particulate sample from beneath a swath of thermal insulation near a hatch at the Poisk Mini-Research Module-2, as well as photographed the materials exposure experiment and associated cabling along Poisk.
The spacewalkers had to hold off on relocating a foot restraint from the hull of Zvezda to the new spacewalk workstation due to time constraints. This was the 173rd spacewalk in support of the ISS, and Yurchikhin’s eighth walk.
This could be considered an uneventful spacewalk compared to the one European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano faced last month. During Chris Cassidy and Luca’s spacewalk, Parmitano’s helmet began to fill with liquid, which could have potentially caused him to drown while in space if emergency measures had not been immediately taken. He described the events of that spacewalk recently in an ESA blog.