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Cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Anton Shkaplerov float outside the Russian side of the International Space Station. Photo Credit/NASA TVCosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Anton Shkaplerov emerged from the Russian segment of the International Space Station early Thursday for a near six hour spacewalk intended to prepare the orbiting science lab for the arrival of a new science module and install protective orbital debris panels on the 12-year-old Svezda service module. If time allows, the cosmonauts will carry out and initiate two external science experiments.The spacewalkers opened the Pirs docking compartment at 9:31 a.m., EST, to begin their excursion.“We are ready to work,” said one of the Russian spacewalkers. “Let’s go.” But the activities began a bit later than planned as the cosmonauts sorted through a difficulty with a space suit cooling unit and helmet mounted video cameras.Kononenko and Shkaplerov are picking up where colleagues Sergei Volkov and Alexander Samokutyaev left off last Aug. 3, when the previous spacewalkers ran out of time on their busy excursion to move the manually operated Stela 1 equipment crane from the Pirs to the Poisk combination airlock and docking module.Today's Strela 1 transfer will prepare Pirs for a forthcoming departure. The 10-year-old module is tentatively scheduled to be replaced in mid-2013 with the 44,000 pound Russian Multipurpose Laboratory Module/European robot arm combination. The new components will be launched aboard a Proton rocket.The remainder of today's spacewalk will be devoted to the installation of five orbital debris panels on Zvezda, which serves as the nerve center of the station's Russian wing. The additional protective shielding is intended to lower the risk that a piece of man-made debris swinging around the Earth or a meteoroid would penetrate the aging module.Station commander Dan Burbank and Don Pettit, both of NASA, remained inside the station with cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin and European Space Agency astronaut Andre Kuipers.
os99, ISS, Roscosmos
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