Cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Yuri Malenchenko have stepped outside the International Space Station for a six-and-a-half hour spacewalk.
The Russians spent the weekend preparing for the stroll; the pair will spend most of their time outside fixing up their cosmic home.
The astronauts climbed into their Orlan spacesuits on Friday to do a fit-check ahead of the jaunt, during which they will shift the Strela-2 hand-operated crane from the Pirs docking compartment to the Zarya module.
Strela-2 has to be moved to prepare Pirs for its replacement: a new laboratory and docking module slated to launch to the station next year, according to NASA. Strela-1 was already taken off Pirs and stuck on the Poisk Mini-Research Module in February.
Since they're out there anyway, the cosmonauts will also deploy a small satellite and install micrometeoroid debris shields on the Zvezda module. If they still have time after that, Padalka and Malenchenko could be asked to grab two experiment panels strapped to the outside of the station that are being used to assess how different materials react to the vacuum of space.
US astronaut Suni Williams and Japanese 'naut Aki Hoshide also reviewed the procedures for their own six-and-a-half-hour spacewalk, which is scheduled for 30 August. They will be out to replace a faulty Main Bus Switching Unit – a distribution hub for the station's power system – and to replace a camera on a robotic arm extension boom and route cables of the Russian Multipurpose Laboratory, which will be replacing Pirs.
The cosmonaut spacewalk is being broadcast live on NASA TV. ®