The assembly of the International Space Station (ISS) passed another major milestone today as two Russian cosmonauts executed a 4 hour, 58 minute spacewalk outside the complex to begin to outfit the Station's newest module.
With Expedition Three Commander Frank Culbertson coordinating activities from inside the ISS, Pilot Vladimir Dezhurov and Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin opened the hatch on the Pirs Docking Compartment for the first time at 9:23 a.m. Central time (1423 GMT) to hook up telemetry and data cables between Pirs and the Zvezda Service Module to which it linked up to three weeks ago, and to install handrails, an access ladder, a cargo crane, a docking target and a automated navigational antenna.
It was the 27th spacewalk in support of the assembly of the ISS totaling 172 hours, 22 minutes, the third spacewalk staged out of the Station itself, the first external spacewalk from the ISS without the presence of a visiting Space Shuttle and the 100th spacewalk in Russian spaceflight history. It was Dezhurov's sixth spacewalk spanning two flights and the first for Tyurin, who is midway through his first flight into space.
Moving with ease, Dezhurov and Tyurin worked leisurely and methodically through their timeline as television cameras on the Canadarm2 Station robotic arm and a camera in the Soyuz return vehicle captured spectacular views of the spacewalk.
Because the spacewalk ran slightly longer than predicted, Dezhurov and Tyurin were unable to complete one task --- a test of the rigidity of the Strela cargo crane, using Tyurin as a mock payload. Russian flight controllers said the task would be conducted on a future spacewalk by the Expedition Three crew.
With all of the other work successfully completed, the hatch to Pirs was closed at 2:21 p.m. Central time (1921 GMT) and the new compartment was repressurized.
A second spacewalk by Dezhurov and Tyurin is planned for Oct. 15 to mount a series of experiments to the exterior of Zvezda designed to gather data on the effect of exposure to the space environment on engineering materials. A third spacewalk by Culbertson and Dezhurov is scheduled for November 5 to complete the exterior outfitting of Pirs.
The new Docking Compartment will be used for the first time on Oct. 19, when the Expedition Three crew temporarily leaves the Station and boards its Soyuz rescue craft to relocate it from its current docked position on the nadir port of the Zarya module to the Pirs. The undocking and redocking of the Soyuz is expected to take about 30 minutes to complete. -2-
That will set the stage for the launch of a fresh Soyuz return craft on Oct. 21 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. A taxi crew consisting of Commander Victor Afanasyev, Flight Engineer Konstantin Kozeev and Flight Engineer Claudie Haignere representing CNES, the French Space Agency, will arrive at the station Oct. 23 for an eight-day stay and will return to Earth on Oct. 31 aboard the Soyuz currently at the Station.
With all of its systems operating in good shape, the station is orbiting at an average altitude of 240 statute miles (385 km). For additional information, including sighting opportunities from anywhere on the Earth, visit:
The orbiting trio also plans a variety of scientific investigations this coming week as they move into the second half of their four-month stay on orbit. Oversight of science investigations on the station from the ground is handled by the Payload Operations Center at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL. the Human Research Facility is managed by the Johnson Space Center. Details on ISS science operations can be found at the center's web site: http://www.scipoc.msfc.nasa.gov
The next ISS status report will be issued on Wednesday, Oct. 10, or earlier, if events warrant.
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