CAPE CANAVERAL (CBSMiami/AP) — Astronauts at the International Space Station got rid of an old seismic experiment on Wednesday during their third space walk in three weeks.
Russian spaceman Alexander Samokutyaev alerted flight controllers outside Moscow as he released his grip on the large rectangular panel holding the experiment. “Off it goes,” he said.
“Three cheers,” someone noted in Russian. “This is an event of some note.”
The panel, shining yellow in the station spotlights, slowly spun in circles as it tumbled away into the blackness. The experiment was launched in 2011 to monitor seismic activity on Earth and had completed its job.
NASA’s Mission Control in Houston said analyses were conducted to ensure the object would not come back and smash into the space station.
Samokutyaev and Maxim Suraev, doubling as trash men, had two more items to junk: a pair of Russian antennas no longer needed 260 miles up.
The Russian Space Agency routinely gets rid of old equipment by setting it loose in orbit. The objects eventually lose altitude and burn up in the atmosphere.
During the planned six-hour excursion, the spacewalkers also planned to inspect the outside of the Russian segment, collecting samples from windows and elsewhere to check for engine exhaust and other materials.
During each of the previous two weeks, American spacewalkers took care of some outside maintenance.
Altogether, six people live on the orbiting lab: three Russians, two Americans and one German.
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