MOSCOW, August 22 (RIA Novosti) – Space enthusiasts will be able to watch a live feed of two Russian crew members from the International Space Station (ISS) making a spacewalk Thursday to remove a laser communication system and begin preparations for the installation of a new telescope.
Cosmonauts Fyodor Yurchikhin and Alexander Misurkin will spend about six hours working outside the ISS, and their activities will be broadcast live via a helmet camera worn by Misurkin, according to US space agency NASA.
“Yurchikhin and Misurkin will remove a space laser communications system from the hull of the Zvezda service module and install a pointing platform on which a small optical telescope will be installed on a future Russian spacewalk,” the US space agency said.
The operation outside the ISS, $100-billion orbiting laboratory built by 15 countries, will take place from 3:40 p.m. to 9:35 p.m. Moscow time, a spokesman for the Russian Flight Control Center said. It will be Yurchikhin’s eighth spacewalk and Misurkin’s third.
While the work will be the 173rd ISS spacewalk, an incident last week provided a reminder that the risks are ever present on such operations. Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano wrote last week about an ISS spacewalk he took part on July 16 during which he nearly drowned when his helmet filled with water.
“I can’t even be sure that the next time I breathe I will fill my lungs with air and not liquid,” Parmitano wrote in a first person account on his blog. “To make matters worse, I realize that I can’t even understand which direction I should head in to get back to the airlock… I’m alone. I frantically think of a plan. It’s vital that I get inside as quickly as possible. I know that if I stay where I am, Chris [the accompanying astronaut] will come and get me, but how much time do I have? It’s impossible to know.”
NASA suspended the use of the space suit Parmitano was wearing shortly after the accident, which Parmitano survived unharmed.
Yurchikhin and Misurkin will use Russian Orlan space suits Thursday – a different type of suit to the one Parmitano was using. To tell the two cosmonauts apart while they are in space, viewers will have to look at the markings on their suits: Yurchikhin’s suit will have red stripes, while Misurkin’s suit will have blue stripes.
It will be Yurchikhin and Murkin's second spacewalk from the ISS in less than a week. Both men spent about six hours on August 16 preparing the ISS for the docking of a Russian laboratory expected later this year.