Crew performs unusual spacewalk inside station
BY WILLIAM HARWOOD
STORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS "SPACE PLACE" & USED WITH PERMISSION
Posted: June 10, 2009
Working in spacesuits inside a compartment opened to vacuum, space station commander Gennady Padalka and NASA flight engineer Michael Barratt carried out a short 12-minute internal spacewalk today to finish rigging a port in the Zvezda command module for arrival of a new docking module in November.
But because they were working in vacuum, the activity was considered a spacewalk, the 125th since station assembly began in 1998, the sixth so far this year, the eighth for Padalka and the second for Barratt. Today's work tied the record for shortest spacewalk, a mark set in 1965 by cosmonaut Alexei Leonov in the first spacewalk ever conducted.
A new docking module, known as MRM-2, is scheduled for launch atop a Soyuz rocket on Nov. 10. Once attached to the station, it will add a fourth Russian docking port to support the increased traffic required by a full-time crew of six.
During an external spacewalk last Friday, Padalka and Barratt installed antennas as part of a system that will enable the MRM-2 docking module to home in on the station, line up and dock at the zenith port of the Zvezda module.
During today's spacewalk inside the evacuated transfer compartment at the forward end of Zvezda, the interior side of the hatchway was equipped with required docking system equipment.
One three-seat Soyuz lifeboat is docked at Zarya and another is berthed at Zvezda's aft port. An unmanned Progress supply ship is attached to the Pirs docking module on Zvezda's Earth-facing port. The MRM-2 docking module will go on the zenith port directly above and across from Pirs.
Yet another docking module, known as MRM-1, is scheduled for launch next year aboard a space shuttle. It will be attached to Zarya's downward facing port, providing the clearance needed for planned U.S. Orion crew capsules to dock at a downward-facing port in the station's U.S. Unity module.
During today's spacewalk, the station crew was split up to make sure everyone had access to a Soyuz lifeboat at all times. Koichi Wakata joined Barratt and Padalka in the Russian segment of the station, with access to the Soyuz docked at the command module's aft port. Frank De Winne, Robert Thirsk and Roman Romanenko remained in the forward segment of the lab, with access to the Soyuz docked to the Zarya module's Earth-facing port.