Krikalev and Phillips work outside space station
Sergei Krikalev and John Phillips work outside the international space station as it orbits Earth on Thursday.
updated 8/18/2005 8:25:04 PM ET 2005-08-19T00:25:04

The two residents of the international space station floated outside Thursday and collected a close-to-lifesize radiation-measuring doll and other science experiments from the exterior of their orbiting home.

The spacewalk by cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev and astronaut John Phillips came just 1½ weeks after the departure of shuttle Discovery. The two left the space station vacant to accomplish the job; flight controllers in Houston and Moscow kept watch over the systems the entire time.

Working 220 miles up, Krikalev and Phillips retrieved bundles of research experiments that had been hanging on the outside of the complex for some time, so they could bring them back in for eventual return to Earth. Some of the packages were replaced with fresh specimens.

The biggest experiment they had to gather was called “matryoshka,” the Russian name for the traditional nesting doll.

It’s actually a nearly lifesize torso made of soft material to simulate human tissue with embedded sensors to measure radiation exposure, important information as NASA makes plans to send astronauts back to the moon and on to Mars. The doll was placed outside the space station last year.

“We are now against the window and we can see there’s no one home,” Krikalev radioed as he and Phillips hauled the doll inside.

NASA and the Russian Space Agency have been forced to conduct all-hands spacewalks ever since the crew size was reduced from three to two in the wake of the 2003 Columbia disaster. A third crew member will be added when Discovery returns to the station, no sooner than March.

Besides fetching the experiments, Krikalev and Phillips hooked up a TV camera that will be used when a new kind of cargo ship arrives at the station next year.

One two-hour chore — to remove a crane attachment from the side of the station — had to be dropped because the spacewalkers were running behind.

“Well, it’s a pity, we had it planned, I think we could have done it,” Krikalev complained. “If we had known, we wouldn’t have worked so hard.”

Mission Control replied there was not enough time and informed the two men in no uncertain times: “That’s it.”

The spacewalk — which lasted five hours — was the only one scheduled for Krikalev and Phillips, who are four months into their six-month mission. It was the eighth spacewalk in Krikalev’s long career and the first for Phillips.

Just this week, Krikalev became the most experienced space flier ever, exceeding the record of 748 days set in the late 1990s by cosmonaut Sergei Avdeyev over three missions.

Krikalev spent two long stints aboard Russia’s former Mir station, and flew twice on NASA’s space shuttles. He also was part of the international space station’s first crew nearly five years ago.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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