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Cosmonaut spacewalkers prepare space station for new docking module

Charles Black, Founder and CEO of Sen
Aug 21, 2012, 7:00 UTC

Sen—The first spacewalk of Expedition 32 at the International Space Station started yesterday at 15:37 UTC.

The 6.5 hour extra vehicular activity (EVA) involved cosmonauts Commander Gennady Padalka and Flight Engineer Yuri Malenchenko. The main objective of the EVA was to move the Strela-2 cargo boom to the Zarya module from the Pirs docking compartment. Moving the boom is part of a plan to make room for the new Russian multipurpose laboratory module, called Nauka, to dock to the Zvezda nadir port. Moving the boom will also aid in preparing for undocking and disposal of the Russian Pirs docking module.

Other tasks performed during the EVA were the installation of shields designed to protect the space station from micrometeoroids. The shields were installed on the outside of the Zvezda service module.

Padalka and Malenchenko have previously performed eight and four spacewalks respectively, and this EVA is the 163rd to take place in order to maintain the International Space Station.

In the run-up to yesterday’s spacewalk, Padalka and Malenchenko resized and performed maintenance on their Orlan spacesuits, organised the equipment they would need, and performed a practise run while in their spacesuits.

The next spacewalk for Expedition 32 will take place on 30 August by NASA Flight Engineer Sunita Williams and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency Flight Engineer Akihiko Hoshide. The first US based spacewalk since July 2011 will also last for a duration of 6.5 hours.

Their tasks will include replacing a faulty power relay unit on the space station's truss, and rigging cables necessary for the Russian laboratory module which will arrive next year. In addition, a robotic arm camera will be replaced and a thermal cover will be installed on a docking port.