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BY JUSTIN RAY

Complete coverage of the Russian spacewalks of the Expedition 17 crew at the space station. Reload for the latest updates.

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VIDEO: SCIENCE PACKAGE MOUNTED TO STATION EXTERIOR PLAY
VIDEO: TAKING A RIDE ON THE STRELA TELESCOPING BOOM PLAY
VIDEO: DOCKING TARGET INSTALLED ON ZVEZDA SERVICE MODULE PLAY
VIDEO: SECOND SPACEWALK BY EXPEDITION 17 CREW BEGINS PLAY
VIDEO: NARRATED PREVIEW OF THE SPACEWALK PLAY

VIDEO: AIRLOCK HATCH CLOSED TO CONCLUDE THE SPACEWALK PLAY
VIDEO: PYROBOLT REMOVED AND PLACED IN BLAST-PROOF CASE PLAY
VIDEO: WATCH AS THE HOLE IN SOYUZ INSULATION IS CUT PLAY
VIDEO: PROTECTIVE COVERS PLACES OVER THRUSTER NOZZLES PLAY
VIDEO: KONONENKO BEGINS CLOSE-UP INSPECTIONS OF SOYUZ PLAY
VIDEO: TELESCOPING STRELA BOOM EXTENDED TO REACH SOYUZ PLAY
VIDEO: VOLKOV HANDS TOOL BAGS OUT OF THE AIRLOCK PLAY
VIDEO: FIRST SPACEWALKER EMERGES FROM THE STATION PLAY

VIDEO: EXPEDITION 17 SPACEWALK PREVIEW BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: RUSSIAN FLIGHT DIRECTOR GIVES CREW A PEP TALK PLAY
VIDEO: STATION MANAGER TALKS ABOUT SOYUZ INVESTIGATION PLAY
VIDEO: FLIGHT DIRECTOR SUMMARIZES THURSDAY'S SPACEWALK PLAY
VIDEO: DEMONSTRATION OF PYROBOLT REMOVAL TASK PLAY
VIDEO: CONTINGENCY TRAINING TO INGRESS SOYUZ PLAY
MORE: EXPEDITION 17 VIDEO COVERAGE
NEW!: STS-124 HIGH DEFINITION VIDEO
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TUESDAY, JULY 15, 2008

Our update story on the spacewalk's conclusion is posted here.

2304 GMT (7:04 p.m. EDT)

EVA ENDS. The Pirs airlock hatch was closed at 7:02 p.m. EDT, marking the official conclusion of today's 5-hour, 54-minute spacewalk.

This brings the total EVA time for the two spacewalks by Expedition 17 commander Sergei Volkov and flight engineer Oleg Kononenko to 12 hours and 12 minutes.

No further spacewalks are planned during the Expedition 17 mission.

2243 GMT (6:43 p.m. EDT)

The Biorisk experiment, which was deployed during Expedition 15 to study the effects of space on microorganisms, has been retrieved and placed into the airlock. The spacewalkers are preparing to wrap up the EVA.

2225 GMT (6:25 p.m. EDT)

The final planned task of the spacewalk is underway to retrieve the Biorisk science experiment.

2144 GMT (5:44 p.m. EDT)

The Vsplesk experiment, designed to monitor seismic effects using high-energy particle streams in the near-Earth environment, has been attached to the exterior of the space station's Zvezda service module. The spacewalkers mounted the small package to handrails on Zvezda's hull, then connected a series of umbilical cables.

2015 GMT (4:15 p.m. EDT)

Before stowing the Strela telescoping boom, Oleg Kononenko went for a remarkable ride around the Russian segment on the space station on the end of the crane. With Sergei Volkov at the controls of the manually-operated boom, Kononenko was positioned in front of the docking target installed earlier in this spacewalk to take photographs from above the area. Strela was then retracted.

As the EVA proceeds, a new science package will be mounted to the exterior of the station and another will be retrieved.

1900 GMT (3:00 p.m. EDT)

Now nearing the two-hour mark of the spacewalk as Sergei Volkov and Oleg Kononenko remove a portable foot platform from the Strela crane and relocate it for storage. They examined and photographed the antenna adapter bolt holes a short time ago. The EVA is progressing smoothly.

1800 GMT (2:00 p.m. EDT)

The first task of the EVA has been accomplished. The spacewalkers installed a docking target -- a short pole with a diamond-shaped face -- to the upward-facing port of the Zvezda service module. That port next August will receive the Russian Mini Research Module 2, which will serve as a docking compartment for Soyuz capsules and Progress supply craft in the future.

Next up today, the cosmonauts will inspect nearby bolt holes on an adapter where a Kurs automated docking system antenna is slated for attachment by a later crew.

1724 GMT (1:24 p.m. EDT)

Space station commander Sergei Volkov and Oleg Kononenko depressurized the Pirs airlock module today and opened an outer hatch at 1:08 p.m. to officially kick off a five-and-a-half-hour spacewalk to install equipment and experiment hardware on the hull of the international lab complex.

Read our update story.

1708 GMT (1:08 p.m. EDT)

EVA BEGINS. The outer hatch of the Pirs airlock has been opened, marking the official start for this second spacewalk by Expedition 17 commander Sergei Volkov and flight engineer Oleg Kononenko.

1632 GMT (12:32 p.m. EDT)

Dressed in their Orlan spacesuits, commander Sergei Volkov and flight engineer Oleg Kononenko are inside the Pirs module and working through the airlock depressurization procedures in advance of today's spacewalk.

TUESDAY, JULY 15, 2008

The two Russian cosmonauts of the space station's Expedition 17 crew will venture outside their orbital home this afternoon for the second spacewalk in less than a week.

Following a successful six-hour, 18-minute excursion last Thursday that cut a hole in their Soyuz capsule's thermal shielding and retrieved a pyrotechnic bolt for Russian investigators studying recent module separation problems with the spacecraft, today's EVA includes a more-typical assortment of tasks.

Commander Sergei Volkov and flight engineer Oleg Kononenko are expected to begin the spacewalk around 1:10 p.m. EDT to perform a to-do list of outfitting chores on the station's exterior.

Activities during the planned five-and-a-half hour EVA include installing a docking target on the upward-facing port of the Zvezda service module where the Russian Mini Research Module-2 will be attached, inspecting bolt holes on an adapter where a Kurs automated docking system antenna is slated for attachment in the future, mounting the Vsplesk experiment to Zvezda to monitor seismic effects using high-energy particle streams in the near-Earth environment and retrieving the Biorisk experiment deployed during Expedition 15 to study the effects of space on microorganisms.

A picture of a station engineering mockup showing the docking target's location is posted here and an illustration depicting the Russian segment of the station once the two Mini Research Modules are added can be seen here.

The crew spent the last few days preparing their Orlan spacesuits and reviewing the spacewalk procedures.

FRIDAY, JULY 11, 2008
0130 GMT (9:30 p.m. EDT Thurs.)


Our update story on the spacewalk's conclusion is posted here.

0108 GMT (9:08 p.m. EDT Thurs.)

EVA ENDS. The Pirs airlock hatch was closed at 9:06 p.m. EDT, marking the official conclusion of today's 6-hour, 18-minute spacewalk that retrieved a pyrotechnic bolt from the Soyuz capsule as part of the investigation into recent module separation problems during re-entries.

0040 GMT (8:40 p.m. EDT Thurs.)

The telescoping Strela boom that was used to give the cosmonauts access to the Soyuz today has been retracted and stowed. The crew is preparing to ingress the Pirs airlock module.

2358 GMT (7:58 p.m. EDT)

The orange-colored insulation blankets have been placed on the Soyuz, completing the spacewalkers' work there. They soon will begin retracting the Strela crane and then return to the airlock for conclusion of the EVA.

2325 GMT (7:25 p.m. EDT)

Space station cosmonauts Sergei Volkov and Oleg Kononenko cut open insulation on their Soyuz re-entry vehicle today, successfully removed an explosive bolt from a suspect connector and locked it in a blast-proof sleeve for return to Earth. The unprecedented space surgery was ordered to help Russian engineers troubleshoot a module separation problem that caused steep, rougher-than-usual descents during the most recent two Soyuz landings.

Read our update story.

2256 GMT (6:56 p.m. EDT)

Now a little beyond the 4-hour mark of the EVA. Mission Control says it is looking likely that the spacewalkers will forego installation of a docking target on the station's exterior. That was the second objective today's spacewalk. The job can be accomplished during next Tuesday's excursion by the cosmonauts.

2254 GMT (6:54 p.m. EDT)

After taking a brief break, the spacewalkers will organize their tools and then mount an insulation patch to Soyuz to cover the large hole cut into the thermal blanket.

2244 GMT (6:44 p.m. EDT)

The bolt was safely stowed in the blast-proof casing at 6:44 p.m.

2242 GMT (6:42 p.m. EDT)

After a few hours of work, the cosmonauts have successfully extracted the pyrotechnic bolt from the Soyuz capsule for placement into a canister for an eventual return to Earth to undergo analysis by engineers.

2235 GMT (6:35 p.m. EDT)

Removal of the pryobolt is underway at last.

2223 GMT (6:23 p.m. EDT)

Mission Control says the cosmonauts are still fighting to release a locking ring on the electrical connector, trying different tools available to do the job.

2210 GMT (6:10 p.m. EDT)

Having swapped places, Sergei Volkov is working in the hole to demate the electrical connector running to the pyrobolt device.

2140 GMT (5:40 p.m. EDT)

After running into problems anchoring his feet on the end of a telescoping boom, cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko tethered himself to the mechanical arm and held on while crewmate Sergei Volkov moved him down to the Soyuz TMA-12 spacecraft. Kononenko, wielding a serrated knife, then began sawing through multi-layer insulation like a surgeon to expose one of five connectors that hold the Soyuz propulsion module to the crew section of the spacecraft.

Read our update story.

2127 GMT (5:27 p.m. EDT)

Now that a sizable hole has been cut into the side insulation of the Soyuz, the cosmonauts are about to free a locking ring from the electrical connector of the pryobolt that will be removed today. They'll also install a small bar over a propellant line that will serve as protection to the plumbing and also act as a handrail for the spacewalkers.

2110 GMT (5:10 p.m. EDT)

After trying to stick his hand into the Soyuz, Moscow told Kononenko cut more of the insulation and make the hole larger to give more room for reaching the pyrobolt.

2100 GMT (5:00 p.m. EDT)

With a knife in hand, Kononenko has begun cutting the multi-layer thermal shielding insulation on the Soyuz spacecraft to gain access to the separation system equipment inside.

2053 GMT (4:53 p.m. EDT)

Protective booties to cover a pair of thrusters on the Soyuz are being installed over the nozzles in preparation for the spacewalkers to open up the surrounding thermal blankets.

2048 GMT (4:48 p.m. EDT)

As part of the initial inspections, cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko is using his camera to take still photographs of the Soyuz to give engineers insight into the craft's condition.

2037 GMT (4:37 p.m. EDT)

Kononenko comes face to face with the Soyuz spacecraft for the start of close-up inspections in the separation plane between the descent module and the propulsion section.

2027 GMT (4:27 p.m. EDT)

Unable to get himself secured in the foot restraint platform, Kononenko has tethered himself to Strela to instead hang on the side of the telescoping crane as it is extended toward the Soyuz.

2017 GMT (4:17 p.m. EDT)

Kononenko is having trouble keeping his feet anchored into the platform they installed on the end of the Strela boom. Moscow has told the crew to take a break.

2010 GMT (4:10 p.m. EDT)

With Sergei Volkov at the operator's station and Oleg Kononenko in a foot platform, the cosmonauts are deploying the Strela telescoping boom from the Pirs module to reach the work area on Soyuz.

1948 GMT (3:48 p.m. EDT)

Now one hour into the EVA. The crew is preparing to crank out the Strela crane they will use to gain access to Soyuz.

1910 GMT (3:10 p.m. EDT)

Our story on the start of today's spacewalk is posted here.

1906 GMT (3:06 p.m. EDT)

And now space station commander Sergei Volkov has floated out of the Pirs airlock module to begin his first ever spacewalk. He is wearing the spacesuit distinguished with red stripes.

1900 GMT (3:00 p.m. EDT)

Commander Sergei Volkov, still inside the airlock, is handing Kononenko bundles of tools and equipment needed for the spacewalk.

1855 GMT (2:55 p.m. EDT)

Cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko exited the airlock first, emerging into space from the station's Pirs module. The flight engineer is wearing the spacesuit distinguished with blue stripes.

1848 GMT (2:48 p.m. EDT)

EVA BEGINS. The outer hatch of the Pirs airlock has been opened, marking the official start for this EVA by Expedition 17 commander Sergei Volkov and flight engineer Oleg Kononenko.

The cosmonauts will be egressing the module shortly to begin setting up the equipment they will need to cut out an explosive bolt from their Soyuz capsule.

This spacewalk is expected to last about six hours.

1830 GMT (2:30 p.m. EDT)

The airlock has reached vacuum and final checks are being performed before the Orlan spacesuits switch to internal battery power.

1731 GMT (1:31 p.m. EDT)

Depressurization of the Pirs airlock began at 1:25 p.m. EDT, Mission Control says, and good parameters are being reported from the cosmonauts' Orlan spacesuits ahead of today's spacewalk.

1515 GMT (11:15 a.m. EDT)

Final preparations are underway aboard the space station for today's spacewalk. NASA astronaut Greg Chamitoff entered into the Soyuz capsule docked to the Pirs module and closed the hatchway by 10:55 a.m. EDT. Fellow crewmates Sergei Volkov and Oleg Kononenko are finishing checks of their Orlan spacesuits in advance of donning them shortly. They will float into the Pirs module, which serves as the airlock, and depressurize it this afternoon for the EVA's anticipated start time around 2:20 p.m.

Chamitoff will be spending the day inside the Soyuz while the spacewalk occurs.

"We do not like to separate the crew from escape vehicle," said Bob Dempsey, a space station/spacewalk flight director. "Therefore Greg will be staying in there. He will have some laptops, books and computers to work on while he's there. And in the event of an unlikely contingency that the (Pirs module) could not be repressed, the Russian crew would enter the Soyuz, which would be used as a backup airlock."

WEDNESDAY, JULY 9, 2008

A dramatic spacewalk outside the international space station is planned for Thursday by Russian cosmonauts Sergei Volkov and Oleg Kononenko to cut a hole in the Soyuz capsule's thermal shielding and remove a pyrotechnic bolt. The work is part of the ongoing investigation to determine why the past two Soyuz spacecraft suffered module separation problems during entry.

Watch this page for live updates on the EVA, which is slated to start shortly after 2 p.m. EDT.

A detailed preview story is available here.

After exiting the Pirs airlock/docking module, Kononenko, anchored to the end of a telescoping boom, will use a knife to cut through insulation over the target connector. Using a NASA helmet cam - a first for a Russian spacewalk - he will carry out a detailed photo-visual inspection with Volkov before the station commander begins the job of removing the pyrobolt.

"We have looked very carefully at any risk that might be associated with removing a pyrobolt on orbit," flight director Bob Dempsey said. "The Russians have been looking at this for a long time and planning this EVA very carefully. Our specialists have looked at it very carefully and we are very confident this is a very safe operation to do."

Using a wrench, Volkov will unscrew a cap and pull out one of the two pyrobolts in the plane 5 connector. The explosive bolt then will be slid inside a steel sleeve that will serve as a blast-proof case. An insulation patch will be attached to the cut-out insulation to complete the inspection and removal procedure.

Read our earlier Expedition 17 status center coverage.





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