Cosmonauts Alexander "Sasha" Samokutyaev and Max Suraev spent Wednesday's spacewalk stripping and jettisoning surplus equipment off the International Space Station, conducting a photographic survey of the exterior, and cleaning the windows.
Top image: Sasha restoring the station windows to crystal-clear perfection. Credit: ESA/NASA/Alex Gerst
Cosmonauts heading out of the station. Image credit: ESA/NASA/Alex Gerst
Gerst spied on his spacewalking colleagues from the station's cupola, sharing the pro-tip that the cosmonauts are colour-coded. Alexander "Sasha" Samokutyaev has blue stripes on his space suit, while Max Suraev has red stripes down the arms of his suit.
Astronauts Barry "Butch" Wilmore and Elena Serova were locked within their Soyuz spacecraft during the spacewalk so the transfer chamber could serve as an emergency airlock. Image credit: ESA/NASA/Alex Gerst
The third spacewalk this month started at 1:06 p.m. EDT on Wednesday. Suraev and Samokutyaev spent three hours and 38 minutes peeling off and discarding old experiments. While not quite a spectacular as trash day, cleaning the outside of the station is certainly more appealing than my household chores.
They removed the Radiometriya experiment, a 2011 study to collect data to see if seismologists could predict earthquakes and other seismic events. Once Radiometriya was removed, they chucked it off the station into a decaying orbit where it will burn up in the atmosphere.
Spacewalking cosmonauts against the backdrop of the Earth. Image credit: ESA/NASA/Alex Gerst
Next, Suraev and Samokutyaev peeled the cover off the Expose-R experiment, photographed it, then kicked back to wait out the station's night. The study will see what horrors the combination of cosmic radiation, vacuum, and harsh day-night cycles will wreak upon squishy biologicals.
Samokutyaev photographing the exterior of the Russian modules. Image credit: ESA/NASA/Alex Gerst
The cosmonauts also collected particulates outside the docking compartments as part of TEST, a study to look for any chemical or toxicological contaminants.
Cosmonaut feet on their way out of the station. Image credit: ESA/NASA/Alex Gerst
Next, they headed to the Poisk mini-research module where a pair of defunct antenna were blocking an otherwise-perfect spacewalking trail. Once again, they jettisoned the surplus equipment, tossing it on a journey to burn up in the Earth's atmosphere.
Samokutyaev photographing the station. Image credit: ESA/NASA/Alex Gerst
Finally, Suraev and Samokutyaev carefully photographed the exterior of the Russian modules.
The station catching the last rays of light against the black marble of the Earth on a moonless night. Image credit: NASA/Reid Wiseman
This was the second spacewalk for both cosmonauts. Suraev was last outside the station in January 2010, setting up Poisk for vehicle docking. Samokutyaev shifted a cargo boom and installed new science and communications gear in August 2011.
The other two spacewalks this October featured astronauts Reid Wiseman and Alexander Gerst repaired broken equipment, then Wiseman and Barry "Butch" Wilmore did some cleaning in advance of commercial crew transport.