Being aboard the International Space Station isn’t all about excitement and adventure. For two Russian cosmonauts who recently completed a successful spacewalk this week, it was more about completing certain mundane housekeeping tasks while floating outside the celebrated Space Station for more than three hours. Flight engineer Alexander Samokutyaev, assisted by commander Maxim Suraev, had to remove a no longer needed experiment that was first installed three years ago called Radiometriya. This housekeeping task involved the jettison of the now defunct scientific equipment out into space. Radiometriya was originally designed to help record terrestrial seismic activities.
The second task on their list involved setting up a new science experiment to expose bacteria and plant samples to orbital space conditions. They successfully launched this European Space Agency experiment by removing its protective cover and exposing the samples to deep space. Another project on the cosmonauts to-do list involved the removal of two research module antennas which are now obsolete. This involved their having to remove bolts, cut assorted cable wires, and then dismantle the antenna parts in order to jettison them into space. The antennas were originally installed to assist spacecraft that were visiting the International Space Station to dock safely and securely. After the antennas drop out of Earth’s orbit, which may take as long as 12 months, they will re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere and quickly burn up.
Last on the list of chores for the two Russians was taking photographs of the Russian modules located at the station in addition to retrieving samples from the station’s exterior windows for analysis prior to returning inside. Although their space walk was estimated to last as long as six hours, the two Russian cosmonauts managed to finish all of their assigned projects in record time, spending only 3 hours, 38 minutes.