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Friday, February 18, 2011

Spacewalking Cosmonauts Deploy, Retrieve Space Station Experiments

Cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Dmitry Kondratyev floated from the International Space Station early Feb. 16 for the installation and retrieval of science experiments outside the orbiting laboratory's Russian segment.

blog post photo
Cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka, center right, emerges from the International Space Station's Pirs airlock.    Photo Credit/NASA TV
The six hour excursion got under way at 8:30 a.m., EST.
During the spacewalk,  Kondratyev and Skripochka plan to attach the Molniya-Gamma and Radiometria experiments to the Zvezda service module.The first is an external study of cosmic gamma ray bursts and the optical radiation associated with lightning from terrestrial thunderstorm activity. Radiometria is to monitor ground-based microwave emissions that could be useful in the predictions of seismic activity.
The cosmonauts will also collect a pair of Komplast materials exposure experiments. The Komplast panels, fastened to the Zarya module,  contain samples of candidate materials for use in the fabrication of future spacecraft.
"Good luck," radioed Russia's Mission Control, which was supervising the outing.
Late last week, Russia cancelled plans by the spacewalkers to manually deploy a 66-pound satellite called ARISSat-1, an educational project sponsored by RSC-Energia, NASA's Office of Education, the Radio Amateur Satellite Corp. and others.
The spacecraft is equipped with a radio transmitter for the broadcast of multi-lingual student greetings, which are part of a worldwide commemoration marking the 50th anniversary April 12 of the first human spaceflight by Russian Yuri Gagarin.
The satellite has been re-scheduled for deployment during a July spacewalk, but the amateur radio transmitter may be turned on inside the station just before the anniversary.
As Skripochka led the way from the station's Pirs airlock a small unidentified object floated out and disappeared in the retrograde direction.
The mystery object was quickly tracked by radar, according to NASA spokesman Rob Navias.
"We don't believe there is a chance of re-contact," he said.

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