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Russian cosmonauts' Friday spacewalk was record-breaker

Scott Sutherland
Meteorologist/Science Writer

Friday, February 2, 2018, 6:53 PM - On Friday morning, two Russian cosmonauts donned their space suits and headed outside for a full day of repair and maintenance work on the hull of the International Space Station, and broke a human spaceflight record as a result.

On February 2, from 10:34 a.m. to 6:47 p.m. ET, Russian station crew members Alexander Misurkin and Anton Shkaplerov went on a spacewalk in their Orlan spacesuits, to perform more maintenance work on the station exterior.

According to NASA commentators, at 8 hours and 13 minutes long, this was officially the longest Russian spacewalk in spaceflight history, beating out the 8 hour, 7 minute spacewalk conducted by Oleg Kotov and Sergei Ryazanski on December 27, 2013.

Watch below for a short summary of this 8+ hour spacewalk.

Alexander Misurkin and Anton Shkaplerov reacted with some surprise when the news was delivered to them, as they worked to get the hatch closed, and officially end their spacewalk. Their impression had been that the longest Russian spacewalk was over nine hours long.

This is now the fifth longest spacewalk in human spaceflight history. The longest spacewalk, ever, was 8 hours, 56 minutes, conducted by NASA astronauts James S. Voss and Susan J. Helms, on Space Shuttle mission STS-102, on March 11, 2001.

Second in a trio

On January 23, the crew of the ISS began a series of three spacewalks.

The first one, shown in the video below, was conducted by NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Scott Tingle, who went outside to perform maintenance on the Canadarm2. Their primary objective was to replace one of the Latching End Effectors (LEEs) - essentially one of the "hands" of the Canadian space robot.

For this second one, Alexander Misurkin and Anton Shkaplerov worked on components of the Russian section of the space station. 

According to NASA:

Misurkin and Shkaplerov’s primary objectives during the spacewalk will be to remove and jettison an electronics box for a high-gain communications antenna on the Zvezda service module and install an upgraded electronics box for communication between Russian flight controllers and the Russian modules of the orbital outpost. The cosmonauts also will take detailed photos of the exterior of the Russian modules and retrieve experiments housed on Zvezda’s hull.
The Russian spacewalk will be the fourth in Misurkin’s career and the second for Shkaplerov, as well as the 207th spacewalk in support of space station assembly and maintenance. Both of their suits will be marked with blue stripes.

A third spacewalk - originally planned as the second in this series, but now delayed until mid-February - will feature NASA's Mark Vande Hei and Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai, who are expected to perform more work on the Canadarm2. After the replacement LEE, which was installed on January 23, was found to have problems, NASA planned to have Vande Hei and Kanai attach a different spare LEE on the Canadarm2. NASA postponed that work, though, to allow them and the Canadian Space Agency more time to conduct testing on the Canadarm2. This third spacewalk is scheduled for February 15.

Source: NASA

Watch Below: NASA astronauts on the ISS headed out on Jan 23, for a spacewalk to swap a hand on the Canadarm2

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