Thursday, January 14, 2010

New Station Addition Passes Docking System Test

Spacewalkers Oleg Kotov and Max Suraev remain well ahead of schedule outside the International Space Station today while crewmates stay busy inside the outpost.

Now more than halfway through a planned five-hour, 50-minute excursion, Kotov and Suraev are completing work aimed at preparing a new keg-shaped module for service as a docking compartment. The Piosk, or "Search," module, will double as an extra airlock.

Engineers in the Moscow Mission Control Center completed a test of the new module's Kurs docking system. The aliveness test showed the Ukrainian-made docking system is working well. Kotov and Suraev hooked up the electrical cables that link the docking system antennas to the Russian command-and-control center at the outpost.

Inside the station, crewmates are working in locales based upon proximity to the Soyuz rescue ships they would use to evacuate the outpost in an emergency.

U.S. astronaut Jeffrey Williams is working in the Russian Zvezda Service Module. The Soyuz he and Max Suraev intend to fly back to Earth later this year is docked at the aft end of the Service Module. The work being done outside the outpost today is setting the stage for Williams and Suraev to relocate their Soyuz to the zenith port of the new Posik module.

U.S. astronaut T.J. Creamer and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguichi, who arrived at the outpost in late December, have free reign of the U.S. side of the outpost. Their Soyuz is parked at the nadir, or Earth-facing, port of the Russian Zarya module, which is linked to the U.S. Unity module. The Unity module bridges the Russian and U.S. sides of the outpost.

You can watch the excursion live here in The Flame Trench. Simply click the NASA TV box on the right side of the page to launch our NASA TV viewer and be sure to refresh this page for periodic updates.

Click HERE for a detailed timeline for the spacewalk.

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