June 10, 2009

Space Station Rearranged For Research Module

Two space station crewmen worked in a small airlock on Wednesday to rearrange a docking mechanism. This was done to make room for a research module anticipated to be delivered later this year.

American Michael Barratt and Russian Gennady Padalka squeezed into the transfer section in the station's Russian-made Zvezda service module 10 minutes later than scheduled because of some pressure issues within the airlock. However, they finished the job speedily and exited the small airlock after 12 minutes.

"Excellent, Michael, good going," Padalka told Barratt during the job, after his crewmate detached the docking cone from its original position.

Even though they were not in open space, Padalka and Barratt were required to wear space suits in the depressurized partition and the procedure was labeled a spacewalk; the 125th performed for construction and preservation of the 10-year-old space station.

The cumbersome suits made the cramped 9-by-5 foot, 2.75-by-1.5 meter, airlock even tighter.

"You need to move down even more, I think there's more space at the bottom," one of the men said at one point. "No, there's no more room," came the reply.

This was the eighth space walk for Padalka, an expert from the Soviet-built Mir space station who has a recorded 27 hours performing spacewalks.

This was Barratt's second walk. He and Padalka performed a five-hour spacewalk on Friday that involved preparations for the coming of the Russian Mini Research Module-2 later this year

The station's diverse crew doubled to six in May and includes two Russians, an American, a Canadian, a Japanese and a Belgian.


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