The crew of Russia’s Mir space station plans two spacewalks in coming days, one to replace an aging solar panel and a second to alter plumbing for future installation of a second carbon dioxide removal system.
Neither will involve U.S. astronaut David Wolf, the 41-year-old physician and engineer who is concluding the fifth week of a planned four-month stay.
Wolf will be stationed inside Mir’s core module while cosmonauts Anatoly Solovyev and Pavel Vinogradov conduct the work today and Wednesday.
Nonetheless, managers of NASA’s cooperative human spaceflight program with the Russians participated in a formal review of the operations Friday.
The first of the 5-1/2-hour spacewalks is to begin today at 5:30 p.m. PST.
Solovyev and Vinogradov expect to remove a still working but degraded 9-year-old power-generating solar panel from Mir’s Kvant 1 module. They also will plug the exterior ventilation valve for an interior life-support system, which removes poisonous carbon dioxide from the crew’s breathing air.
The cosmonauts also plan to deploy a replica of the Sputnik satellite launched by the former Soviet Union 50 years ago last month. The launch began the Space Age.
During Wednesday’s spacewalk, Solovyev and Vinogradov will unstow a new solar panel currently secured to the exterior of the Mir docking module used by visiting U.S. shuttles. The panel was delivered by a U.S. shuttle crew in November 1995.
The cosmonauts plan to install the new panel on the Kvant 1 module and then install a new vent valve that will accommodate a second Mir carbon dioxide removal system.
None of the work is directly in response to damage suffered June 25 when Mir was struck by an unmanned Progress cargo capsule.
However, the Russians have tentative plans for spacewalks to recover use of the Spektr science module, which was punctured in the crash.