Russian cosmonauts set new world spacewalk record

By Meghna Murali

Sometimes, things do not always go the way they are planned. Space missions can be scary and dangerous at the same time. On February 2nd, Russian cosmonauts Alexander Misurkin and Anton Shkaplerov were given the task of replacing an old antenna on the ISS. Hence, a spacewalk was scheduled for the same. However, halfway through the process, things changed. The cosmonauts ended up creating a new spacewalk record of eight hours and 13 minutes!

The spacewalk

A spacewalk by the Russian cosmonauts was scheduled on the 2nd of this month for repairing an old antenna aboard the ISS. The estimated time period of the spacewalk was six hours and thirty minutes. Expedition commander Alexander Misurkin and Flight engineer Anton Shkaplerov had to replace an electronics box in the antenna for better communication between their stations. The antenna was introduced into space when the ISS was launched in the year 1990. The box weighed 27 kg (60 pounds) and the electronics and communication systems were obsolete with the current communications system software. Thus, the cosmonauts had to replace the old box with a new one.

Problems on the mission

Working in an outer-space environment can be challenging. The astronauts opened the hatch to the Pirs docking compartment. Seven hours into work, the cosmonauts realised that the antenna on the box wasn’t extending after being folded up for the upgrade. They applied a lot of force and tried pushing the antenna into the correct position. At the same time, controllers at the space station tried to rotate the antenna. Instead of turning in the right direction, the antenna was rotated 180 degrees in the opposite direction. During the course of this process, a new world was created!

Removing the old electronics was somewhat difficult for the cosmonauts, as the device was not meant to be serviced or replaced in orbit, especially with the bulky space gloves spacewalkers wear,” said Rob Navias, a NASA TV commentator.

A new record

The purpose of the spacewalk was to replace an old electronics box on an antenna aboard the ISS. Despite being unsuccessful, the cosmonauts ended up creating a new spacewalk world record! The walk lasted for eight hours and thirteen minutes, six minutes longer than the previous world record, which was recorded in 2013. Most of the space debris is taken back to the ISS and then transported to Earth. However, in this case, after the brief antenna incident, the old electronics box was ‘jettisoned’ or thrown away from the station. Thus, the electronics box will eventually burn on its way through the Earth’s atmosphere.

Even though the antenna was positioned at the wrong angle, the antenna seemed to work efficiently. Further investigation will be carried out by the cosmonauts to monitor the functioning of the antenna.


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