Cosmonauts Install Debris Panels on the Station

The International Space Station is getting an upgrade today. Cosmonauts Fyodor Yurchikhin and Oleg Kotov stepped outside the station this afternoon, to begin a 6-hour spacewalk to install a debris protection system to the Zvezda module. The station’s 3rd resident, US astronaut Sunita Williams, remained inside.

If everything goes according to schedule, the two men will install the Service Module Debris Protection (SMDP) panels onto the Zvezda module, and reroute a Global Positioning System antenna cable.

While station operators are able to detect larger chunks of space debris and move the station, the smaller pieces are almost impossible to detect, and could punch through the station. These 17 protective panels will give an additional layer of protection to the station’s inhabitants.

They’re scheduled another spacewalk next Wednesday, where they’ll perform similar tasks.

Original Source: NASA News ReleaseSpacewalkers outside the station. Image credit: NASA TV