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  • Spacewalking Cosmonauts Forced to Defer Space Station Debris Shield Installation
    Posted by Mark Carreau 8:24 PM on Feb 16, 2012

    blog post photo
    Cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, right, lashes down a cargo crane outside the International Space Station's Russian segment. Photo Credit: NASA TV

    Spacewalking cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Anton Shkaplerov were forced to defer the installation of orbital debris panels on the International Space Station’s Russian segment Thursday, after they struggled to accomplish their primary task – the relocation of an external cargo crane.

    Their six-hour spacewalk wound toward a close at 3:30 p.m., EST.

    The two men had hoped to outfit the exterior of the station’s 12-year-old Svezda service module with five protective panels intended to lower the risk of a penetration from a small meteoroid or piece of man-made orbital debris.

    Instead, they deferred the 2½ hour outfitting task to a future spacewalk. There was time, however, for a pair of brief research activities. The spacewalkers installed a materials exposure experiment, Endurance, on the outside of the Russian segment’s Poisk module, a combination docking compartment and research lab.

    Endurance holds a collection of metal samples, which will be exposed to the space environment for a year,  then retrieved.

    Kononenko and Shkaplerov finished off Thursday’s spacewalk by lifting up a bit of external insulation on Svezda to check for microbial contamination. Svezda serves as the nerve center of the station’s Russian segment.

    Earlier, the two men wrestled with safety tethers, space suit thermal issues and video gear as they transferred the Strela 1 external cargo crane from the Pirs to the Poisk module on the Russian side of the station. The spacewalk’s primary task helped to set the stage for the future jettison of the decade old Pirs module, a docking/airlock compartment.

    Roscosmos, the Russian federal space agency, plans to replace Pirs with the larger Multipurpose Laboratory Module and European robot arm. The new hardware is tentatively slated for a mid-2013 launch on a Russian Proton.

    The spacewalkers kicked off the first space station spacewalk since Aug. 3 at 9:31 a.m., EST. They fell 90 minutes behind schedule as they struggled to uproot Strela 1 from Pirs and strap it to Strela 2, a second Pirs cargo crane, for transfer to the adjacent Poisk compartment.

    The remainder of the station’s crew, Americans Dan Burbank and Don Pettit, European Space Agency astronaut Andre Kuipers and cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin, worked inside the orbiting science laboratory.

    Tags: os99, ISS, Roscosmos

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