Second spacewalk of 2016 conducted by cosmonaut duo
Two Russian cosmonauts stepped outside the International Space Station (ISS) on Feb. 3 to retrieve and deploy several experiments on the exterior of the Zvezda and Poisk modules of the Russian Orbital Segment of the orbiting laboratory.
Yuri Malenchenko and Sergey Volkov donned their Orlan spacesuits early Wednesday morning before exiting the hatch on the Pirs docking compartment at 6:55 a.m. CST (12:55 GMT). They were tasked with a number of chores that included replacing experiments, installing gap spanners, and releasing a flash drive in a canister to burn up in the atmosphere.
During the whole extravehicular activity (EVA) the two breezed through their tasks and concluded their spacewalk about 45 minutes early. All total it lasted about four hours and 45 minutes.
After opening the hatch, the first thing they did was take two samples of the surface of the window on the door to check that no spacecraft thruster residue has built up on it or the surrounding surfaces.
After that, Volkov was the first to leave the module. He had with him a flash drive containing messages from last year’s 70th anniversary of Russia’s Victory Day. It was thrown retrograde from the space station so as to ensure that it will not collide with the station in future orbits before its orbit eventually degrades into Earth’s atmosphere.
“There it goes,” Volkov said as he released it.
Volkov noted that it looked beautiful as it tumbled with the Earth beneath it.
“That’s perfect guys,” said ground controllers at the Russian Mission Control Center.
Next, Malenchenko and Volkov both translated the Zvezda and took residue samples on a couple windows, just like before on Pirs.
The two then translated to the EXPOSE-R experiment on the port side of the service module and took photos of it before installing the protective cover and detached it from the platform. They then took the experiment back to the Pirs. EXPOSE-R is a European Space Agency experiment testing a collection of biological and biochemical samples exposed to the vacuum and radiation of space.
They then translated to the Poisk module with the help of the Russian Strela arm booms to install the Vinoslivost experiment—two panels with exposed metal samples. After that they moved to the adjacent module—Zarya—to install gap spanners.
Translating the way they came, they returned to the Pirs module to stow the experiments that were replaced as well as other unneeded equipment.
Finally, they retrieved one more experiment—Restavratsiya—from Pirs and attached it to the ladder right outside the hatch. The experiment’s goal was to test a special glue coating for external surfaces on the space station.
The device, which looked like a tape dispenser not unlike what a package deliverer might use to tape boxes, had a few snags while the two conducted the experiment. They had to take the contraption apart and fix a jam.
“Ok, let’s roll!” one of the spacewalkers said after fixing the roller.
They finished the task and then stored the package back in Pirs and started procedures to conclude the spacewalk.
Malenchenko re-entered Pirs first then Volkov. They closed the hatch at 11:40 a.m. CST (17:40 GMT) officially ending the spacewalk. Russian EVAs are measured from hatch opening to hatch closing.
This was the 193rd EVA in support of space station assembly and maintenance for a total of 1,204 hours and 48 minutes. Additionally, it was Malenchenko’s sixth spacewalk and Volkov’s fourth.
Video courtesy of NASA
Derek Richardson is a student studying mass media with an emphasis in contemporary journalism at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. He is currently the managing editor of the student run newspaper, the Washburn Review. He also writes a blog, called Orbital Velocity, about the space station. His passion for space ignited when he watched space shuttle Discovery leap to space on Oct. 29, 1998. He saw his first in-person launch on July 8, 2011 when the space shuttle launched for the final time. Today, this fervor has accelerated toward orbit and shows no signs of slowing down. After dabbling in math and engineering courses in college, he soon realized that his true calling was communicating to others about space exploration and spreading that passion.