Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Russian spacewalkers ahead of schedule

Two Russian cosmonauts are cruising through today's spacewalk outside the International Space Station, more than an hour ahead of schedule.

Three hours and 23 minutes into the planned six-hour spacewalk, Dmitry Kondratyev tossed an unneeded foot restraint into space, as assigned.

"It’s like sending a paper airplane into the air," he told Russian mission controllers as the hardware floated away on a trajectory that will keep it out of the station's path until it burns up in the atmosphere. 

You can see the jettisoned foot restraint in this picture just inside Earth's bright contour.
Earlier, Kondratyev and partner Oleg Skripochka installed two sets of experiments outside the Zvezda service module. One has sensors that will measure gamma rays and optical radiation from lightning and thunderstorms on Earth, the other will be used to help predict seismic activity and forecast earthquakes.
The spacewalkers will wrap up their work by retrieving two experiment panels that have been exposed to space from the Zarya module. They'll place the Komplast panels in an airtight container that will be brought back inside the station.

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