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Cosmonauts leave space station for six-hour space walk

NASA photo of Solar array panels on the Russian segment of the International Space Station and a blue and white part of Earth

(Reuters) – Two Russian cosmonauts floated outside the International Space Station on Wednesday for a six-hour space walk to replace science experiments and jettison two unneeded antennas.

Station commander Maxim Suraev and flight engineer Alexander Samokutyaev left the station’s Pirs module at 9:28 a.m. EDT (1328 GMT) as the complex sailed 260 miles (418 km) above the planet.

The cosmonauts quickly completed the first task on their to-do list, removing and jettisoning a defunct science experiment known as Radiometriya. The device, which was installed in 2011, was used to track seismic activity on earth, NASA mission commentator Rob Navias said during a live broadcast of the space walk on NASA TV.

Suraev and Samokutyaev then removed a protective cover from a European science experiment that exposes seeds, bacteria spores, fungi, ferns and other samples to the harsh environment of space.

The cosmonauts, both making their second space walks, also plan to remove and discard two obsolete antennas from the Poisk mini-research module and make a detailed photographic and video survey of the Russian part of the station.

The space walk is the third in three weeks and the seventh and last outing planned for this year. Next year NASA plans up to 10 space walk to reconfigure the station for the arrival of commercial space taxis, which are expected to begin flying crews to the outpost in 2017.

The station is a $100 billion research laboratory owned and operated by a partnership of 15 nations.

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