Yurchikhin, Kornienko near end of six hour spacewalk Photo Credit/NASA TV
Spacewalking cosmonauts succeeded in equipping the International Space Station’s new Rassvet module with an automated docking system early Tuesday and carrying out other external upgrades.
The seven hour outing by Fyodor Yurchikhin and Mikhail Kornienko drew to a close shortly before 7 a.m., EDT.
"Guys, we are running out of time," Russia's Mission Control informed the cosmonauts, as the outing ran almost an hour longer than scheduled.
The excursion was not easy for two the Russians, who struggled with balky cable fasteners. A large unidentified tool and smaller pieces of hardware floated away from them during the spacewalk.
In the end, though, the two men succeeded in stringing command and data cables as well as an antenna link along the outside of the station’s Russian segment to furnish Rassvet with an automated rendezvous and docking capability. The 23-foot-long compartment was delivered to the station aboard the shuttle Atlantis in May.
Also known as the Mini Research and Docking Module-1, Rassvet provides the station with a fourth docking port for Soyuz and Progress crew and cargo transport modules.
The spacewalkers also replaced an aging video camera on the Zvezda service module. The camera is used to monitor rendezvous operations involving the European Space Agency’s Automated Transfer Vehicle.
The next ATV is due in December.
Yurchikhin and Kornienko tossed the old camera over board, after struggling to find a position to push it behind and below the orbiting laboratory.
Mission managers feared some fraying fiber glass insulation in the camera housing might pose an inhalation hazard to the station’s crew if the imager was carried inside.
The shoe box sized camera was expected to burn up in the Earth's atmosphere within 120 days.
Americans Doug Wheelock and Tracy Caldwell Dyson are scheduled for an Aug. 5 station spacewalk.
Wheelock and Caldwell Dyson will install a power and data grapple fixture on the station’s Russian segment. The fixture will provide a new anchor for the station’s Canadian robot arm.