Two Russian cosmonauts will take a spacewalk outside the International Space Station today (April 18) and you’ll be able to watch it live online.
Cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev and Denis Matveev, both of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, will spend seven hours working outside the International Space Station in their bulky Orlan spacesuits. The spacewalk is scheduled to begin at 10:25 a.m. EDT (1425 GMT), with NASA’s live webcast starting at 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT).
The spacewalk is the first of two excursions by the cosmonauts to activate systems on the station’s recently arrived Russian-built Nauka science module.
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“During the first spacewalk, the cosmonauts will install and connect a control panel for the European robotic arm, a 37-foot-long manipulator system mounted to the recently arrived Nauka multipurpose laboratory module,” NASA officials said in a statement. “They will also remove protective covers from the arm and install handrails on Nauka. The arm will be used to move spacewalkers and payloads around the Russian segment of the station.”
The second spacewalk, scheduled for April 28, will feature the removal of protective thermal blankets on Nauka that were used during its launch in July 2021 but are no longer needed. The cosmonauts will also perform additional work on the new robotic arm.
The two spacewalks by Artemyev and Matveev are likely just the beginning for the full activation of the Nauka module’s systems. According to NASA, more spacewalks will be needed to fully set up the robotic arm and activate a new airlock on Nauka for future excursions.
Today’s spacewalk comes amid a busy week on the International Space Station, which is home to 11 people, four of which are private astronauts with SpaceX’s Ax-1 mission for Axiom Space. Three cosmonauts, three NASA astronauts and a European Space Agency astronaut make up the station’s professional Expedition 67 crew.
On Tuesday (April 19), the four Ax-1 astronauts will undock their SpaceX Dragon capsule from the station for a planned splashdown off the Florida coast a day later. The return to Earth will end a 12-day mission for mission commander Michael López-Alegría (a former NASA astronaut) and paying passengers Larry Connor, Eytan Stibbe and Mark Pathy. It’s the first all-private mission to the space station.
Then on Saturday (April 23), SpaceX will launch the professional Crew-4 astronaut crew to space station. That crew includes three NASA astronauts and one European Space Agency astronaut. Its arrival will set the stage for the station’s Crew-3 astronauts to return to Earth later this month.