About 45 minutes ago, Russian cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Mikhail Kornienko exited the International Space Station’s (ISS) Pirs airlock to conduct a six-hour spacewalk. At 249 miles above the Earth’s surface and traveling at 17,150 mph, it’s safe to say Padalka and Kornienko have the toughest job of any human today. You can watch live coverage of the spacewalk below.
The new equipment includes devices called gap spanners. These gap spanners will help future spacewalkers get around the exterior of the station easier. Besides the gap spanners, the pair will also install fasteners on communications antennas and replace an old antenna that assists the rendezvous and docking of vehicles at the Russian docking ports.
Padalka and Kornienko will also grab the Obstanovka Experiment. First deployed in 2013, it studies the interaction between the ISS and the space plasma environment in low-Earth orbit.
The pair of cosmonauts will also take care of some routine maintenance. The windows of the Zvezda Service Module need to be clean. And my palms get sweaty thinking about window washers hanging on the sides of skyscrapers. Imagine hurtling through space nearly 250 miles above the Earth?
Today’s spacewalk is the 188th in support of the International Space Station.
Fun fact: the first spacewalk conducted in support of the ISS was on December 7th by U.S. astronauts Jerry Ross and James Newman. Assembly of the station began as the astronauts attached the U.S.-built Unity node to Zarya (the first model of the ISS to be launched).
James Newman wraps up third spacewalk to connect Unity to Zarya.
For Padalka, today’s spacewalk is just another trip outside the station. Today’s spacewalk is his 10th, and he holds the record for most time spent in space. This will be Kornienko’s second spacewalk as he nears the halfway mark of his one-year mission on the ISS.
Featured image: Alexander Misurkin on spacewalk in 2013. Credit: NASA