June 3, 2009

Crew Getting Ready For Spacewalk On Friday

The six-member Expedition 20 crew of the International Space Station focused Tuesday on preparations for an upcoming spacewalk.

Commander Gennady Padalka and Flight Engineer Mike Barratt reviewed spacewalk procedures and configured their Orlan spacesuits in advance of a 5 ½ hour excursion slated to begin Friday at 2:45 a.m. EDT.

During the Russian spacewalk, Padalka and Barratt will prepare the Pirs docking compartment for the arrival of the Mini-Research Module 2, which will serve as an additional docking port for Russian vehicles. The spacewalkers will install a docking antenna to help guide the new module into place when it arrives at the station aboard an unpiloted Soyuz in November.

Additionally, Padalka and Barratt will take photographs of the Strela-2, a manually-operated crane used during Russian spacewalks, and retrieve a canister from the Biorisk space exposure experiment. Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata will assist the spacewalkers from inside the Zvezda service module.

In advance of Friday's spacewalk, the hatches between the Pirs docking compartment and the ISS Progress 33 cargo craft were closed. Afterwards, the crew performed leak checks to verify that Pirs is ready to support the spacewalk.

Flight Engineers Roman Romanenko, Robert Thirsk and Frank De Winne spent time familiarizing themselves with their new home in space. The three new crew members arrived at the station May 29, inaugurating the long-awaited presence of a six-person crew and marking the first time all five international partners -- NASA, the Russian Federal Space Agency, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency "“ are represented by crew members aboard the station.

The Expedition 20 crew also had time scheduled for Earth observation and photography Tuesday. The crew was advised to direct its cameras towards England, where clear skies provided a rare opportunity to obtain detailed imagery of London. Also on the list were the English port cities of Falmouth and Portsmouth, from which Charles Darwin began and ended his historic voyage aboard HMS Beagle in the 19th century.


Image Caption: A portion of the International Space Station is featured in this image photographed by a crew member aboard the station. Earth's horizon and the blackness of space provide the backdrop for the scene. Credit: NASA 


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