Two cosmonauts went for their seventh and final spacewalk outside the International Space Station on Wednesday, jettisoning three components that were no longer needed as well as carrying out a photo survey on the Russian segment of the lab complex. The cosmonauts completed their tasks much faster than scheduled.
Maxim Suraev, Expedition 41 commander, together with flight engineer Alexander Samokutyaev opened the hatch of Pirs’ airlock compartment at precisely 9:28 AM EDT to officially begin their spacewalk. They made their way to the top of Zvezda’s command module and detached the Radiometriya experiment package.
The experiment (which was no longer operational) had been designed to monitor seismic activity and was pushed away into space by Suraev. It soon disappeared from view. Suraev and Samokutyaev then removed a cover from another materials science space exposure experiment package, stowed it in Pirs’s airlock and went on to the Poisk module (located atop Zvezda) where the Soyuz ferry craft is docked.
Back in 2009, when the Poisk module was launched to the International Space Station, it carried out an autonomous rendezvous as well as an automated docking by using Russian navigation systems which included KURS antennas. As neither of those antennas were needed since Poisk’s launch, the cosmonauts removed them on Wednesday by cutting through cables and unbolting the fasteners securing them to the hull. Samokutyaev, aided by Suraev, discarded the antennas by releasing them to the right rear of the International Space Station’s axis.
According to NASA trajectory analysts, neither component would pose any threat to the station between the time they were released and the time they would eventually be drawn by gravity back into Earth’s atmosphere.
The astronauts used still and GoPro video during their spacewalk in order to document the condition of the Russian segment of the space station. Samples were also collected from a window in the Pirs compartment to aid in an ongoing study focused on learning more about the way that rocket plumes affect surfaces. At the same time, Reid Wiseman was taking pictures of the spacewalkers:
“Reid is taking pictures of us furiously,”
one of the cosmonauts said.
“That’s why I’m hearing all this incessant clicking,”
added the other.
Although the spacewalk had been scheduled to take approximately six hours, the cosmonauts completed all their tasks in a bit over three. Suraev and Samokutyaev came back to the Pirs airlock and closed its hatch at 1:06 PM.
In total 119 astronauts representing nine nations have completed 1,152 hours and 27 minutes of spacewalk time outside the International Space Station.