Cosmonauts Fyodor Yurchikhin and Alexander Misurkin established a new Russian endurance record for spacewalks on Friday as they extended solar power and Ethernet cables outside the International Space Station to prepare the six-person orbiting lab for the arrival of the Nauka Multipurpose Laboratory module.
Their 7 hour, 29 minute excursion concluded at 6:05, EDT.Fyodor Yurchikhin, center left, outside Pirs airlock. Photo Credit: NASA TV
Their work day outside the ISS eclipsed a Soviet era spacewalk mark of 7 hours, 16 minutes set by cosmonauts Alexander Balandin and Anatoly Solvovyev on July 17, 1990 while they worked outside the former Mir space station.
Yurchikhin and Misurkin interrupted their primary task Friday only long enough to install a materials science experiment.
Their utility extensions across the Poisk and Zarya modules will permit the 22-ton MLM to draw solar power and data connectivity from the station's U.S. segment.
On Friday, the cosmonauts essentially re-traced their steps from a June 24 spacewalk in which they installed clamps for the new cables.
The MLM, which will also provide a docking port and airlock, is expected to launch at the end of this year, at the earliest. It will be launched atop a Proton rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the site of a July 2 launch mishap involving a similar rocket. The Proton crash was recently attributed to a ground handling error.
The MLM will replace the Russian segment's 12-year-old Pirs airlock and docking compartment, which will be propelled destructively away from the station a few days before the Nauka launch.
Yurchikhin and Misurkin are to walk again on Aug. 22, this time to replace a laser communications experiment with a rotating mount for a future optical telescope and to salvage a docking target from Pirs.
The longest spacewalk of all time, 8 hours, 56 minutes, was carried out by U. S. astronauts Jim Voss and Susan Helms on March 11, 2001 as part of a space shuttle ISS assembly mission, according to NASA records.