Cosmonauts Finish Spacewalk to Ready Space Station for New Module

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Cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko Spacewalk

Cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko is pictured in an Orlan spacesuit with red stripes during a spacewalk in December 11, 2018, to inspect the Soyuz MS-09 crew ship. Credit: NASA

Expedition 65 Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos have completed a spacewalk lasting seven hours and 19 minutes.

The two cosmonauts opened the hatch to the Poisk docking compartment airlock to begin the spacewalk at 1:53 a.m. EDT. They re-entered the airlock and closed the hatch at 9:12 a.m.

Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov Spacewalk

Pyotr Dubrov’s helmet camera spots Oleg Novitskiy on the other end of the 46-foot-long (14 meters) Strela boom, a Russian crane, that the spacewalkers detached from the Pirs airlock. Credit: NASA

During the spacewalk, the duo disconnected the external mechanical links between Pirs and the space station, relocated spacewalk hardware including a telescoping crane, and reconfigured antennas to prepare the Pirs module for undocking and disposal. Additionally, the cosmonauts replaced a fluid flow regulator panel on the nearby Zarya module, jettisoned the old panel as planned, and replaced biological and material science samples on the exterior of the Russian modules.

Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov

Cosmonauts (from left) Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov conducted their first career spacewalks together. Credit: NASA

Pirs will be replaced by the new Russian Multipurpose Laboratory Module, named “Nauka,” which is Russian for “science.” The undocking of Pirs is scheduled for this summer, about two days after Nauka launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

This was the first spacewalk for both cosmonauts and the 238th spacewalk overall in support of International Space Station assembly, maintenance, and upgrades. It also marks the sixth spacewalk of 2021.

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