UNITED STATES: In a remarkable display of extravehicular activity (EVA), two Russian cosmonauts, Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin, embarked on a six-hour spacewalk outside the International Space Station (ISS) on Thursday, June 22.
Their mission involved tidying up the exterior of the orbiting laboratory by removing and discarding three obsolete devices, including a spent science experiment.
The spacewalk, part of Expedition 69, commenced at 10:24 a.m. EDT (1424 GMT) as Prokopyev and Petelin exited the ISS through the Poisk module.
Their tasks included the installation of a new stanchion for high-speed telemetry equipment and retrieving a micrometeoroid impact experiment mounted outside the space station for several years.
With precision and efficiency, the cosmonauts rerouted cables and disconnected a data relay unit, a telemetry transmitter, and the hardware for a completed seismic activity experiment. Each item was discarded into space, ensuring their eventual disposal as they burned in Earth’s atmosphere.
The discarded experiment, known as the Seismoprognoz, had been installed on the Zvezda service module during a spacewalk in December 2013, nearly a decade ago.
The cosmonauts bid farewell to the equipment, following the guidance of Mission Control Moscow, as it floated away from the space station, never to return.
The jettisoning of the hardware and stanchions enabled new components, including a monoblock for a high-speed data unit. Prokopyev and Petelin successfully mounted this equipment on the Zvezda module, expanding the capabilities of the ISS.
During the spacewalk, the cosmonauts also inspected the plume deflectors at the aft end of the Zvezda service module, capturing detailed photographs for analysis by Russian engineers on the ground.
These deflectors serve to protect the space station from the engine plume. Prokopyev humorously described their appearance as resembling a dirty frying pan, eliciting a witty response from Petelin.
Before concluding their tasks, Prokopyev and Petelin cleaned one of the module’s windows using towels, which they discarded. They also retrieved a biological sample exposure package near the hatch of the Poisk airlock, marking the completion of their objectives for the spacewalk.
At 4:48 p.m. EDT (2048 GMT), Prokopyev and Petelin reentered the Poisk module, wrapping up their 6-hour and 24-minute journey in the vacuum of space.
With this successful EVA, Prokopyev has now accumulated an impressive total of 48 hours and 40 minutes across seven spacewalks, while Petelin has conducted five spacewalks, all in collaboration with Prokopyev, amounting to a cumulative time of 33 hours and 9 minutes.
The recent spacewalk was the ninth of the year and the 266th dedicated to the assembly and maintenance of the International Space Station since its inception in 1998.
The efforts of these cosmonauts exemplify the ongoing commitment to scientific exploration and the maintenance of humanity’s home in space.