Thursday, January 14, 2010

Two Cosmonauts Set For Space Station Spacewalk

Two Russian cosmonauts will venture outside the International Space Station early today on an outing aimed at preparing a newly delivered module for service as an extra docking port at the outpost.

The work done by Oleg Kotov and Max Suraev also will set the stage for U.S. astronaut Jeff Williams and Suraev to move their Soyuz spacecraft to the new berthing port next Thursday.

You can watch the five-hour, 50-minute 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. Live NASA TV coverage will begin at 4:30 a.m. EST. Kotov and Suraev are scheduled to exit the station at 5:10 a.m.

Here's a look at the plan for the 24th spacewalk out of the Russian Pirs airlock, which doubles as a docking compartment:

The two spacewalkers will float out of the Pirs airlock with equipment bags in tow and then make their way, hand over hand, to the opposite side of the Russian Zvezda Service Module.

The Pirs airlock is located on the nadir, or Earth-facing port of Zvezda; the new Piosk module -- the Russian word for "Search" -- is located on the zenith, or space-facing side of the Service Module, which is the command-and-control center on the Russian side of the station.

The prime objective of the excursion is to disconnect and then reconnect communications cables that will link the new Piosk module, also known as the Mini Research Module 2, or MRM2, with the Zvezda Service Module.

High and low frequency antennas, which were placed outside the Service Module during spacewalks last summer, also will be set up along with a docking target.

The cosmonauts also will be collecting up some multi-layer insulation covers no longer needed, bundle them up and then jettison them off the aft end of the Service Module. The bundles are expected to reenter Earth's atmosphere in seven to 15 days. Their last task will be retrieving an experiment canister outside the Service Module for a return to Earth.

Kotov will be making his third spacewalk; he performed two as a flight engineer on Expedition 15. Kotov will be wearing the Orlan spacesuit with the red stripes and is the prime spacewalker for the excursion.

Suraev will be performing his first spacewalk. He will be wearing the Orlan suit with the blue stripes.

Click HERE for a detailed timeline for the spacewalk.

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