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Cosmonauts on spacewalk to add lab to space station, NASA reports

First of multiple spacewalks slated to prep orbiter for addition of multi-purpose Russian module

Two spacewalking cosmonauts ( see spacewalk live here) are now preparing the outside of the International Space Station for the addition of a new Russian lab.

Flight Engineers Fyodor Yurchikhin and Alexander Misurkin began what is scheduled to be a 6-hour spacewalk at 9:32 a.m. EDT today. The cosmonauts are equipped with NASA helmet cameras to provide close-up views of their work.

The pair today are taking the first of what is expected to be many spacewalks to prepare the station for a planned replacing an older airlock with a new multipurpose laboratory module later this year.

The Russian Federal Space Agency plans to send the combination research facility, airlock and docking port to the station on a Proton rocket later this year, according to NASA.

During Monday's spacewalk, Yurchikhin and Misurkin are slated to replace a fluid flow control panel and install clamps so power cables can be installed on a future spacewalk. They also will retrieve several science experiments that have been attached on the outside orbiting station.

Today's spacewalk is the 169th in support of space station assembly and maintenance. It is the sixth spacewalk for Yurchikhin and the first for Misurkin, NASA noted.

This is the second of up to six Russian spacewalks planned for this year.

Two spacewalks by NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency are scheduled for July.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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