The International Space Station is one of the most important scientific laboratories on (or around) Earth, and it’s home to travelers from the United States, Russia, and other countries year-round. As such, upkeep is critical to ensuring things run smoothly, and trips outside of its protective are sometimes required.
Today, Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Alexey Ovchinin are conducting one such spacewalk. The trip is expected to last just shy of seven hours, and it’s already begun. You can watch it unfold live right here.
There are a number of objectives for today’s spacewalk, including experiment retrieval and residue collection from the exterior of the space station. The Russian duo will also be tasked with the much less glamorous task of cleaning the windows of the spacecraft.
NASA offers the following summary of the day’s events:
Kononenko, who will be designated extravehicular crew member 1 (EV1), in the suit with red stripes, and Ovchinin, who will be EV2, in the suit with blue stripes, will install handrails on the Russian segment of the complex, retrieve science experiments from the Poisk module’s hull, and conduct maintenance work.
The spacewalk began at just after 11 a.m. EDT and is expected to last around six-and-a-half hours from start to finish. It’s entirely possible that the tasks the duo are tackling will be completed in a shorter timeframe, or even that difficulties prevent them from completing all their assigned duties before the spacewalk window closes.
As with most spacewalks, NASA is providing a live stream so that the general public can observe how things play out, only this time around there’s a pretty significant language barrier. A translator can also be heard in the audio feed of the live stream, relaying commands between the Russian and American support teams. NASA commenters also pop into the stream from time to time to offer context on the duties being carried out.