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  • Spacewalking Cosmonauts Struggle to Transfer Cargo Crane
    Posted by Mark Carreau 6:23 PM on Feb 16, 2012

    blog post photo
    In this view, cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, center, is moving along the Strela 2 cargo crane, transferring the Strela 1 crane from the Pirs to the Poisk module. Anton Shkaplerov is located at the base of Strela 2, left of center. Photo Credit: NASA TV

    Spacewalking cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Anton Shkaplerov struggled Thursday to transfer the Strela 1 cargo crane from the Pirs to the Poisk module during a scheduled six hour spacewalk outside the International Space Station’s Russian segment.

    The excursion got underway at 9:31 a.m., EST, and the two men fell 90 minutes behind schedule, as they wrestled with safety tethers and a second Stela crane attached to Pirs and used in the transfer.

    “Whoever came up with that?” one of the cosmonauts, with a note of frustration over the work plan, radioed at one point, according to a commentator’s translation. “I’m running out of hands here.”

    Mission Control Moscow was evaluating whether the two men had time to tackle the second major task of their outing, the installation of five protective orbital debris shields on the station’s 12-year-old Svezda service module.

    “It’s locked in place,” one of the spacewalkers – it was not clear which one
    informed controllers as the transferred crane was finally latched down on Poisk at 1:15 p.m., EST. "We are all hot and bothered.”

    The Strela transfer is considered a precursor to the disposal of Pirs, a combination docking module and airlock, launched a decade ago.

    Roscosmos, the Russian federal space agency, has tentative plans to launch a replacement for Pirs, the larger Multipurpose Laboratory Module with European Robotic Arm, in mid-2013.

    Pirs was equipped with two of the Strelas, hand-cranked cranes used to move bulky equipment and sometimes a spacewalking cosmonaut around the station’s Russian segment. Kononenko and Shkaplerov required the use of a second Strela on Thursday to hoist and transfer Strela 1 from Pirs to Poisk, a combination docking compartment and research lab.

    The transfer was originally planned as part of an Aug. 3, 2011 spacewalk by Sergei Volkov and Alexander Samokutyaev. The transfer was deferred when the two men fell behind with other activities.

    The debris shields were developed to be placed around the conical transition on the multi-dimension Zvezda module, which serves as the operational nerve center of the station’s Russian segment. The shielding is intended to lower the risk of a penetration from a small meteoroid or one of the thousands of pieces of man-made debris that has accumulated in Earth orbit over the past half century.

    Tags: os99, ISS, Roscosmos

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