Russian cosmonauts conduct first of 11 spacewalks for new space station module

Russian cosmonauts conduct first of 11 spacewalks for new space station module
NASA

Russian cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov are conducting a spacewalk Friday to prepare the new Nauka module for operations on the International Space Station.

The spacewalk will begin Friday at 10:35 a.m. ET and is expected to last for nearly seven hours. Live coverage will be shared on NASA TV and the agency’s website.

It’s the first of what could be up to 11 spacewalks by the cosmonauts as they work on Nauka, a multipurpose laboratory module that includes additional space for research and sleeping quarters. The next spacewalk, expected to last about five hours, is scheduled for September 9.

In July, Russia’s newly docked Nauka module accidentally fired its thrusters, spinning the space station out of control. At the time, three NASA astronauts, two Russian cosmonauts, a Japanese astronaut and an astronaut with the European Space Agency were on board.

Dmitry Rogozin, general director of Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, told CNN, “we did have a problem,” and he blames it on human error.

Nauka launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on July 21 and docked on July 29.

During Friday’s spacewalk, Novitskiy and Dubrov will connect cables for power, ethernet and data between Nauka and the Russian Zvezda service module. The two cosmonauts will install handrails and complete any leftover tasks for the cable routing work during the September 9 spacewalk.

For both spacewalks, Novitskiy will be extravehicular crew member 1 in the Russian Orlan spacesuit with the red stripes, and Dubrov will wear the spacesuit with the blue stripes as extravehicular crew member 2.

The outings will be the second and third spacewalks for both Dubrov and Novitskiy, as well as the 242nd and 243rd spacewalks in support of assembling, maintaining and upgrading the space station.

Meanwhile, a spacewalk scheduled for August 24, which was to include NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, will now take place on September 12 — with some changes.

The August spacewalk was postponed a day before it was set to occur due what NASA described as a “minor medical issue” experienced by Vande Hei.

While no further details about this issue — outside of the fact that it was not a medical emergency — have been shared, Vande Hei will now provide internal support during the September 12 spacewalk as he continues to recover.

European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet will take his place alongside Hoshide. During the walk, Hoshide and Pesquet will install a modification kit that will prepare for future Roll-Out Solar Array installation work.

This will be the first spacewalk conducted out of the orbiting laboratory’s Quest airlock by two international partner astronauts at the space station, according to NASA.

A 360-degree virtual reality camera will film Hoshide and Pesquet during their spacewalk.

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