Russian spacewalk concludes successfully
BY WILLIAM HARWOOD
STORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS "SPACE PLACE" & USED WITH PERMISSION
Posted: July 15, 2008
Space station commander Sergei Volkov and flight engineer Oleg Kononenko re-entered the Pirs airlock module and closed the hatch at 7:02 p.m. to wrap up a successful five-hour 54-minute spacewalk. The cosmonauts accomplished all of their primary objectives, mounting a docking target on the Zvezda command module, installing a physics experiment and bringing another experiment back inside. They also inspected the mounting point for a docking system antenna that will be installed later, repositioned a foot restraint and straightened out an antenna used by the station's ham radio system.
This was the 114th spacewalk devoted to station assembly and maintenance since construction began in December 1998, the 15th so far this year and the second in five days for Expedition 17 commander Volkov, 35, and flight engineer Kononenko, 44. Space station EVA time now stands at 718 hours and 48 minutes. Volkov and Kononenko have now logged 12 hours and 12 minutes of EVA time during their two spacewalks.
"I believe we are done, I believe we completed all the tasks," one of the spacewalkers radioed after floating back into the Pirs module.
"You took the words from my mouth," mission control replied. "You've done everything just great. In two EVAs, you've done everything that was required of us."
"Thank you so very much."
Just before hatch closure, the cosmonauts and mission control discussed media coverage of the Russian spacewalks. During the first spacewalk last week, the cosmonauts accomplished their sole primary objective, removal of an explosive bolt from their Soyuz TMA-12 re-entry craft, but deferred the docking target installation until today. The docking target was added to last week's spacewalk as a purely secondary objective to be carried out only if time was available.
"You know, in that set of articles, the overall (thrust was that) we did not complete all the tasks because we did not install the docking target because from their point of view, the docking target was the prime task and we didn't do it," one of the cosmonauts said via an interpreter.
"Well you know, I don't have this journalist on the balcony (in mission control)," someone responded. "But you know, normally, you know, they're looking for something fishy. But since there was nothing, they are just, you know, trying to make it up."
"And they tell that we lost 4 kilos each and we never even weighed ourselves! So we're curious ourselves whether we lose some weight or not."
"Well, when you come back to Earth and meet them at one of the press conferences, please explain where they should be getting information."
"You know it was really surprising and upsetting that all the articles were repeating one and the same, that we did not complete all the tasks because we did not install the docking target."
After a bit more banter, someone said "Well, the main important thing for us, guys, is not to take offense."
"We got a good laugh and it doesn't really bother us," one of the cosmonauts said.