HISTORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS AND USED WITH PERMISSION
“alt =” “/>
Two Russian astronauts are due for a spacewalk outside the International Space Station on Wednesday to begin preparations for the pier gateway and docking section next year to make room for a new lab module.
The tour, starting around 9:30 a.m. EST, will also be confirmed with the help of the Poisk docking station on the opposite side of the station from Pier, as an airlock for future Russian space travel after the removal of its older counterpart.
The spacewalk comes two days after the arrival of four astronauts aboard the merchant spacecraft SpaceX Crew Dragon and will be carried out by the commanders of Expedition 64 Sergei Ryzhikov and Sergei Kud-Sverchkov, who are making their first trips outside the space station.
For identification, Ryzhikov, nicknamed EV-1
Almost identical to the Pirs, the Poisk was launched almost exactly 11 years ago, on November 10, 2009, and two days later was attached to the top port of the Star module. It has been used many times as a port for unmanned Progress freight carriers and Soyuz ferries, but never as an airlock.
Before daring to go outside, the astronauts planned to spend about an hour making sure that the hitherto unused Poisk side hatch could be safely opened and tightly closed with an airtight closure and that the hatch leading to the main part of the station did not leak when the compartment is under or near a vacuum.
Dressed in their suits, Orlan, Ryzhikov and Kud-Sverchkov first planned to partially relieve pressure from Poisk for an initial round of leak checks. Kate Rubins, a member of the NASA crew, will conduct similar tests from the Russian segment of the station.
The astronauts will then take Poisk to vacuum, open the side hatch of space for the first time in the module’s history, and inspect its seals for signs of foreign objects or damage. Spare sealing material is available if required.
They then plan to close the hatch and conduct additional leak checks before reopening it and floating outside to begin the 232nd spacewalk dedicated to the installation and maintenance of the station, the eighth EVA station so far this year.
The first item on the agenda is the installation of a new pump to support the circulation of liquids in the Russian Zarya module, the first module of the station, launched 20 years ago, on November 20.
The astronauts will then extract a space science palette from materials from the Pirs module and disconnect the telemetry cable. The cable will be reconnected to Poisk, starting the process of ending the use of Pirs as an airlock.
After cleaning the window of the Star module, space travelers will move the rocket impact detector and retrieve an experimental tray that helps engineers assess the effects of micrometeoroids. Their latest task is to photograph the exterior of the Russian segment.