It was a record that hadn’t been challenged since the days of Mir in 1990, but on Friday, Aug. 16, it was smashed by Expedition 36’s Russian flight engineers Fyodor Yurchikhin and Aleksandr Misurkin: longest Russian extravehicular activity (EVA).
The cosmonauts broke the 23-year-old record with their International Space Station (ISS) EVA, which stood at seven hours and 16 minutes, by 13 minutes. This time stands at stark contrast to the early days of the agency’s EVAs; cosmonaut Alexei Leonov’s historic 1965 spacewalk on Voskhod 2 lasted merely 12 minutes.
Yurchikhin and Misurkin spent these hours rigging cables for a multipurpose laboratory module, “Nauka” (Science), which is scheduled to launch aboard a Russian Proton rocket in December. The spacewalk began at 10:36 a.m. EDT after Russian Orlan suits were donned. After the cosmonauts installed the Strela cargo boom on the Poisk module, Misurkin used the boom to send Yurchikhin and equipment to the Zarya module. Yurchikhin rerouted connectors and installed cable crucial to the installation of the future module, which will replace Pirs.
In the meantime, Misurkin worked on installing an experiment panel on Posik, “Vinoslivost.” This panel will expose different materials to space in order to gauge changes in their properties. Following Misurkin’s activities (he also installed two connector patch panels and gap spanners), he joined his colleague at Zarya, where the two worked together to install lengths of Ethernet cable. The cosmonauts ended their spacewalks at 6:05 p.m. EDT with the closing of the Pirs module’s docking compartment hatch.
This EVA marked the seventh spacewalk for Yurchikhin and the second for Misurkin. The cosmonauts will have a chance to add more EVA time to their careers, as they are both scheduled to venture outside of Pirs on August 22 to mount a telescope platform.
This EVA comes exactly a month after a harrowing spacewalk for Italian ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano. While he ventured outside of the ISS with NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy, he realized his helmet was beginning to fill with water. The EVA was aborted at one hour, 32 minutes. Parmitano’s entry back into the ISS was expedited, and while he ultimately was fine, the scare prompted an investigation by NASA that is still ongoing. Thankfully, today’s EVA seemed to go off without a hitch.
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