Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Cosmonauts Complete EVA on ISS

View from the helmet camera. From the Pirs module, you can see Soyuz and Progress ships docked to the station.
While most of us were struggling to start our dreary Mondays, up at the International Space Station cosmonauts Gannady Padalka and Mikhail Kornienko emerged from the Russian-built Pirs module hatch at about 8:20 am MST. The spacewalk was officially number RS-41, purposed to do some standard maintenance on the station for about a six-hour adventure above the Earth. 
Padalka-Cam. No moves are made without first attaching clips and tethers to station handles. The tool bag kept floating into the way.
Although a part of the EVA dealt with some scientific work, most of it dealt with install gap spanners, which are soft handrails to ease movement on the outside of the station, and cleaning a window and maintaining antennae. 
Clean Windows make for easier viewing.
During the attempt to clean the Pirs module window, it became apparent that the gap spanners were needed. The window had gotten particles covering it from previous thruster firings over time, and need simple wiping. Of course nothing is simple in space. The grab handles didn't quite reach far enough over to the window, so one cosmonaut had to help hold the other's legs so that he could steady himself enough to reach the cloudy window. Then similar to how you would buff the wax on your car finish, the window was buffed clear and the cosmonauts moved on to other tasks.
Padalka-cam catches a view of Kornienko moving about the module.

The science experiment involved removing some samples from an experiment that exposes materials to the vacuum and environment of space. After 5 hours and 31 minutes, the cosmonauts were safely inside the airlock. Evidently the EVA (188th  EVA on the station) was routine enough that it was not yet been reported in some of the space on-line journals and news formats. But there is never, ever, anything routine in space when you are in one of the most hostile environments in the universe.

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