Novitskiy & Dubrov conduct Russian EVA-50 for Nauka module outfitting

by Tobias Corbett

ISS Expedition 65 Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy and Pytor Dubrov performed an EVA (Extravehicular Activity) at the International Space Station on Thursday, the second in a series of up to 11 spacewalks planned to integrate the new Russian Nauka module onto the ISS.

Novitskiy and Dubrov, in their Russian Orlan-MK spacesuits, opened that station’s Poisk airlock module hatch at 14:51 UTC / 10:51 EDT on September 9, officially beginning the 7 hour 25 minute spacewalk (55 minutes longer than planned) to continue power and ethernet cable connections and installing handrails on Nauka.

Additional tasks deferred from the previous EVA, Russian EVA-49 on Friday, September 3 — including throwing an ethernet cable reel overboard for a passive entry and disposal in Earth’s atmosphere, installation of three Biorisk experiments, mating of an ethernet cable, and a photo survey — were performed on Thursday’s spacewalk as well.

Russian EVA-50 was the 243rd spacewalk in support of construction, outfitting, and maintenance of the ISS, the 13th EVA of the year (11 on ISS and 2 on the Chinese space station), and the 6th for Expedition 65.

The spacewalk, as cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy stated, enabled the incremental activation of Nauka’s systems and scientific capabilities.

The previous EVA — Sept. 3, 2021

Following years of delays, Nauka launched and autonomously docked with the ISS at the end of July. Since then, the crew aboard the station and ground crews in Russia have been working to outfit the new module and bring it into operation.

The September 3rd excursion marked the second EVA for both Novitskiy and Dubrov, who spent 7 hours 19 minutes outside the station in June tasked with decommissioning the Russian Pirs docking compartment that was undocked to make way for Nauka. 

Once the two spacewalkers exited Poisk, their first task was to translate to one of the two Russian Strela EVA cranes mounted to the Russian segment and perform preparatory work on its end effector that would be needed later in the spacewalk.

After this, Dubrov translated down towards Nauka and began installing several cable clamps on the new module.

After Dubrov installed the new clamps, Novitskiy began routing the power cables destined for Nauka down towards the module, connecting it with the station’s power supply.

(Tweet translation: Oleg’s tweet: And again “day off” day, as my wife likes to say. Connect to the broadcast at 17:30 Moscow time! Quote tweet from Roscosmos: As part of the integration of the module #Nauka our astronauts will go out into outer space They will continue to work on connecting the power cables to integrate the module into a common power supply system and Ethernet cables to integrate Nauka into the cable network.”)

Once the two completed the cable work, Dubrov attached himself to the end effector of the Strela crane, and Novitskiy extended it — moving Dubrov out to PMA-1 (Pressurized Mating Adaptor -1), the node that connects the Russian segment of the ISS to the US segment.

Novitskiy then translated down the Strela boom to meet up with Dubrov at PMA-1.

From here, the two began work connecting Nauka into the US segment’s power system and connecting Nauka’s ethernet cables. All ground checkouts of the connections were completed, with a good power path from two power cable bundles from the US segment to the Nauka module verified.

Despite the excellent work, tasks and checkouts took longer than planned — which is somewhat expected on spacewalks. Behind the preplanned timeline, Russian controllers decided that storing the Strela crane and attaching one of three handrails would be the final tasks for the EVA. The other planned objectives would be delayed to a future spacewalk.

The three Biorisk-MSN experiment canisters were to be placed outside of Poisk to observe how microorganisms fare when exposed to the vacuum of space. Instead, they will now be deployed on a future spacewalk.

At an orbital sunrise, Novitskiy and Dubrov work on the Strela crane outside the Poisk module. (Credit: NASA/Roscosmos)

The duo ended Russian EVA-49 after 7 hours 54 minutes, bringing both of their EVA career totals to 15 hours 13 minutes.

EVA-49 marked the beginning of an intense period of spacewalks for the Expedition 65 crew. In addition to Russian EVAs-40 and -50, JAXA astronaut and Expedition 65 Commander Akihiko Hoshide, joined by French ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet, will exit the station on Sunday, September 12t for US EVA-77, which will see the two prepare the ISS for installation of its third new iROSA solar array.

EVA-77 will also, interestingly, mark the first “American EVA” carried out without any American astronauts.

In the following months, up to nine more Russian spacewalks are planned to fully integrate Nauka and the ISS. One of those tasks will be activating the European Space Agency-built European Robotic Arm (ERA) manipulator system launched to space with Nauka in July.

Furthermore, German ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer, set to launch to the station aboard the upcoming SpaceX Crew-3 mission no earlier than October 31, will participate in at least one of the ERA spacewalks.

This will mark the first time a non-Russian cosmonaut has participated in a Russian EVA since Expedition 20 in 2009.

(Feature image: Pyotr Dubrov waves during Russian EVA-49 on September 3, 2021. Credit: Oleg Novitskiy/Roscosmos)

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