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Cosmonauts breeze through five-hour spacewalk

Irene Klotz, Spaceflight Correspondent
Aug 19, 2014, 4:16 UTC

Sen—Two Russian cosmonauts left the International Space Station Monday for what turned out to be an easier-than-expected spacewalk to deploy a small science satellite, install new experiments and tackle some maintenance chores.

Flight engineers Oleg Artemyev and Alexander Skvortsov breezed through their second spacewalk, the 181st overall since space station assembly began in 1998. Their first job was to dispatch a 2.2-pound cubesat built by students at the National University of Engineers in Lima, Peru. The tiny spacecraft, named Chasqui-1 after a word the Incans used for "messenger", is primarily an educational and technology research project.

Standing on a ladder just outside the Russian Pirs airlock, Artemyev lobbed the 4- by 4-by 4-inch cube into space and watched it tumble safely away from the station. The satellite is outfitted with visible light and infrared cameras to photograph Earth, as well as sensors to measure temperature and pressure.

The spacewalkers then turned their attention to a long list of science experiments that needed to be installed or retrieved from outside of the station. The equipment included a European investigation to test how some organisms that have adapted to extreme environments on Earth fare in the high radiation and temperature swings of space. 

Artemyev and Skvortsov also installed a clamp to reinforce a communications antenna that was installed in June and collected samples of residue on some of the Zvezda module's windows. Those will be returned to Earth for analysis. 

The cosmonauts breezed through their chores and were back in the station's airlock about an hour ahead of schedule. 

Last week, the station crew released Orbital Sciences Corp's second Cygnus cargo ship back into orbit so that it could be pulled down into the atmosphere for incineration. 

NASA had planned two spacewalks in August, but delayed them until new batteries arrive for the astronauts' spacesuits. The batteries will be among the cargo packed aboard a Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) Dragon freighter, which is due to launch on Sept. 19.