Expedition 37 Crew Took Olympic Torch For A Spacewalk On Saturday
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
After being carried to the International Space Station (ISS) by three new crew members of Expedition 38 a few days earlier, the 2014 Winter Games’ Olympic Torch was carried outside the orbiting lab for a spacewalk on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013.
Expedition 37 Flight Engineers Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy opened the hatch on the Pirs docking compartment at 9:34 am EST for what was to be a nearly six-hour-long spacewalk for space station maintenance. During the opening moments of the spacewalk, the two Russian cosmonauts floated just outside the station for a photo shoot with the unlit Olympic Torch.
After a round of photos and video were taken of the unprecedented event, the Torch was tucked safely away back inside the docking compartment and the two men returned to their duties outside the ISS, some 260 miles above Earth.
[ Watch the video: An Olympic Moment In Space ]
Among the planned tasks were to continue the setup of a combination extravehicular activity (EVA) workstation on the hull of the Zvezda module, as well as a biaxial pointing platform that was previously installed during an August 22 spacewalk as part of Expedition 36. A scheduled spacewalk in December will see the installation of a high-res camera system at the pointing platform.
Also during Saturday’s EVA, Kotov and Ryazanskiy deactivated the Radiometria experiment package on Zvezda. Designed to collect information useful in seismic forecasts and earthquake predictions, Radiometria had been gathering data since its installation in February 2011 as part of Expedition 26. Another future spacewalk is planned to fold down and restrain Radiometria’s antenna.
After the Russian duo completed their tasks, they reentered the Pirs docking compartment and closed the hatch at 3:24 pm – five hours and 50 minutes later. Now that the Olympic Torch has been to space, it will be returned to Earth on Sunday when three members of Expedition 37 return home after their five-and-a-half-month-long stint aboard the ISS.
Expedition 37 Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and Flight Engineers Karen Nyberg and Luca Parmitano will be returning home aboard their Soyuz spacecraft with Torch in hand. Once back on solid ground, the Torch will continue its relay until finally being brought to Sochi, Russia where it will be used to light the Olympic flame on February 7, which opens the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.
Saturday’s spacewalk was the 174th in support of ISS assembly and maintenance. It was the fourth EVA for Kotov and the first for Ryazanskiy. This was the eighth spacewalk conducted at the station this year. Kotov will make his fifth spacewalk in December, joined by fellow cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin, who had just arrived along with the Olympic Torch.