The crew aboard the International Space Station (ISS) has slipped into spacesuits and floated out a hatch to begin a five-and-a-half hour spacewalk, the first since the men arrived at the outpost three months ago.The next "outing". I like that. Nice turn of phrase.
Wearing Russian pressurised spacesuits, NASA astronaut Leroy Chiao and cosmonaut Salizhan Sharipov opened the hatch on the station's Pirs docking module at 6:43pm AEDT as the outpost soared over the southern Atlantic Ocean.
"Leroy, careful there," flight directors at the Russian Mission Control Centre outside Moscow radioed to the crew as they prepared to open the hatch to leave the station.
"Just pull on it and that's it," the flight director said.
Mr Chiao, who has made four spacewalks during previous missions, and Mr Sharipov, on his debut outing, gathered the last of their tools and two bundles of equipment and slipped into the vacuum of space.
"Hello space, my old friend," Mr Chiao said.
"It's so cold and beautiful," added Mr Sharipov.
Topping the list of the half-dozen tasks on the spacewalkers' to-do list is the installation of a work platform to the outside of the Zvezda service module.
The platform holds a small German-built robotic arm called Rokviss.
The two-jointed device is intended as a technology demonstration experiment.
Once the platform is attached, the spacewalkers plan to attach telemetery equipment, a television camera and an antenna so the arm can be remotely controlled by ground-based teams or by crewmembers inside the space station.
Mr Chiao and Mr Sharipov also are scheduled to mount three canisters containing life science experiments, which will be retrieved during future spacewalks.
Before returning to the station's airlock, the spacewalkers will inspect some vents to see if they can pinpoint any debris that may be affecting the station's troubled oxygen generator.
The spacewalk is the first of two planned during Mr Chiao and Mr Sharipov's mission.
The next outing is scheduled for March.
Thursday, 27 January 2005
From Reuters via the ABC :