Sergei Volkov and Alexander Samokutyaev, center right, were set to deploy an educational satellite commemorating the historic 1961 spaceflight of Yuri Gagarin when an antenna problem developed. Photo Credit/NASA TV
Cosmonauts Sergei Volkov and Alexander Samokutyaev began a six hour spacewalk outside the International Space Station today with a disappointing decision to delay deployment of the ARISSat-1, a 57-pound educational satellite to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first human spaceflight, Yuri Gagarin’s single orbit of the Earth on April 12, 1961.
The excursion got under way at 10:50 a.m., EDT, as the two men emerged from the station’s Russian segment’s Pirs airlock slightly behind schedule.
About 40 minutes later, the two men were poised to toss the prototype nano sat from the rear of the station, when Russia’s Mission Control stopped the deployment. Flight controllers noticed a problem with one of two antennas on the satellite and asked the two men to hold off at least temporarily.
The top priority for the spacewalk is a transfer of the segment’s telescoping STRELA-1 cargo boom from the 10-year-old Pirs docking compartment to the newer Poisk docking and airlock module. The transfer will set the stage for the future departure of Pirs, which is scheduled to be replaced by the Russian Multipurpose Laboratory module with a European robotic arm in 2012.
STRELA-2, a second telescoping boom that Volkov and Samokutyaev will use today, will be removed from Pirs on a future excursion.
The 7,000 pound multi-use Pirs compartment is connected to the Russian Zvezda service module.
ARISSat-1, a prototype for a series of educational satellites also known as Radioskaf-V, is a collaboration between the Radio Amateur Satellite Corp, RSC-Energia, NASA's office of education, the ISS National Lab project and the Amateur Radio on ISS working group.
Other tasks on today’s agenda include the installation of a laser antenna for the high speed transmission of scientific data to Earth, the retrieval of an unneeded docking antenna and some troubleshooting of a proximity operations antenna. Volkov and Samokutyaev will also photograph a materials exposure experiment and install Biorisk, an investigation into the effects of the space environment on microbes.