- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 16, 2008

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. | The space station’s two Russian cosmonauts stepped outside for the second time in less than a week Tuesday, taking a spacewalk that promised to be tame compared with last week’s work with explosives.

Although Sergei Volkov and Oleg Kononenko had a lengthy to-do list, none of the chores was notably complicated or dangerous this time.

They quickly installed a docking target to be used when a new Russian miniature research module arrives next year. But Mr. Kononenko had trouble taking pictures of the target. He couldn’t aim his camera the right way as he dangled at the end of a 50-foot boom, his body rotating at times.

With Mr. Volkov steering the boom from its base and Mr. Kononenko on the opposite end, the two looked as though they were riding a giant seesaw.

“I don’t know what the camera is going to cover, but I’m taking pictures,” Mr. Kononenko said.

Russia’s Mission Control outside Moscow urged the spacewalkers to photograph themselves as well. “Beloved,” Mission Control teased.

Their other spacewalk jobs included rearranging some foot restraints, installing a new science experiment to the outside of the International Space Station and bringing back inside an experiment that looked at cosmic effects on bacteria and fungi.

The Russian space agency originally planned just one spacewalk for Mr. Volkov and Mr. Kononenko, but another spacewalk was added and took priority to remove an explosive bolt from the Soyuz capsule parked at the space station; the pair carried out the unprecedented work successfully Thursday.

The explosives in the bolt had as much force as a big M-80 firecracker and could have blown off their hands. The bolt was placed in a blast-proof cylinder and taken back into the space station; the two Russians will carry it with them when they fly back to Earth in the Soyuz in October.

Russian space officials want to avoid the steep, off-course descents that shook up the last two returning Soyuz crews. Engineers still do not know what went wrong, but suspect some of the explosive bolts may not have fired properly.

As he did last week, American astronaut Gregory Chamitoff remained in the Soyuz for the entire spacewalk. Space station officials wanted him in the capsule in case an emergency arose and the spacewalkers had to join him there.

Mr. Volkov and Mr. Kononenko have been living at the space station since April. Mr. Chamitoff arrived last month aboard Space Shuttle Discovery.

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