Sunday, November 10, 2013

Olympic Torch Handover Highlights ISS Spacewalk

Two Russian cosmonauts have completed a six hour long spacewalk on the exterior of the International Space Station, carrying the Olympic Torch out into the vacuum of space.

Cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy, both of the Russian Federal Space Agency(Roscosmos) began the spacewalk at 2:34 p.m. Irish Time as the pair left the station's Pirs Airlock with the Olympic Torch in hand.
Ryazanskiy waves for the camera with the Earth in the background

The Olympic Torch was launched to the orbiting complex along with the Soyuz TMA-11M spacecraft, bringing three new crew members to the ISS. This will be the same torch that will be used to light the flame at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Although this is not the first time an Olympic Torch has been in outer space, today marks the first time that the torch will be taken outside into the vacuum of space on an EVA.

Kotov and Ryazanskiy spent time taking photos of the torch with both the Earth and the darkness of space in the background.

Kotov handed the torch over to Ryazanskiy at 3:14 p.m. as the station flew high over the Atlantic Ocean.

However, carrying the torch was not the only objective to be completed today.

The spacewalking duo soon got to work on the other tasks set out for this EVA.

Both cosmonauts focused their attention on the relocation of a foot restraint, the preparation of a pointing platform on the Service Module, and the deactivation of an experiment payload.

All tasks were completed successfully, except for when Kotov and Ryazanskiy were supposed to remove antenna which had been positioned on the exterior of the Russian segment. Finding the task impossible to complete, teams on the ground instructed the duo to translate back to the airlock to conclude today's excursion.

As for the Olympic Torch, it will return to Earth aboard the Soyuz TMA-09M spacecraft, which will more importantly return the Expedition 36/37 crew to planet Earth after living and working aboard the station for the past 5 and a half months.

Fresh from today's spacewalk, Oleg Kotov will assume command of the International Space Station on Sunday from Expedition 37 Commander Yurchikin. Expedition 38 will officially begin when Yurchikin, Nyberg and Parmitano undock their Soyuz spacecraft from the Zvezda Service Module, with undocking scheduled for 11:27 p.m.

This will leave six Expedition crew members aboard the complex, in order to continue the some 150 experiments being carried out 250 miles above our heads.

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