Cosmonauts perform spacewalk to prepare new Russian space station module

This week, two Russian cosmonauts completed their first of up to 11 spacewalks outside the International Space Station (ISS) to prepare a newly arrived laboratory module for space operations.

The pair, Expedition 65 Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, began their spacewalk by exiting the ISS at 10:41 a.m. ET (7:41 a.m. PT) on Friday, September 3. They spent a total of almost eight hours outside the station, concluding the spacewalk at 6:35 p.m. ET (3:35 p.m. PT).

Cosmonauts (from left) Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov conducting their second spacewalk together.
Cosmonauts (from left) Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov conducting their second spacewalk together. NASA

They were working to get the outside of the station ready for the operation of the new Russian Nauka multipurpose laboratory module. To do this, they installed a grabbing point on the current Nauka module to make moving around outside easier, then also ran power cables between the Nauka and Zarya modules so that the new module is connected to current systems.

“Novitskiy and Dubrov completed the major objective for today to connect power cables between the recently arrived Nauka module and the Zarya module to enable the routing of electricity from the U.S. segment of the station to Nauka,” NASA wrote in an update. “Checkouts of the two electrical power cable systems from Zarya to Nauka were successful. They also partially installed one new handrail.”

Cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov during a spacewalk to connect power and ethernet cables to the Nauka laboratory module.
Cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov during a spacewalk to connect power and ethernet cables to the Nauka laboratory module. NASA

This is part of a busy season at the space station, being the 10th spacewalk conducted so far this year. As well as getting the new module ready, the ISS crew have also been doing spacewalks to upgrade the station’s power system, with the installation of newer, more efficient solar arrays to provide power from sunlight. NASA shared the statistic that spacewalkers have now spent a total of 63 days, 15 hours, and 35 minutes working outside the station.

Novitskiy and Dubrov will have plenty more time together outside the station as well, as there is much work to be done to get the Nauka module fully operational. They will be performing another spacewalk this week, and they may perform up to 11 spacewalks in total.

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