HOUSTON, May 31 (UPI) -- Two cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station completed a five-hour, 25-minute spacewalk despite initial communications problems.
The spacewalk began at 3:05 p.m. EDT Wednesday -- 45 minutes behind schedule due to the communications problems -- and ended at 8:30 p.m.
Cosmonauts Fyodor Yurchikhin and Oleg Kotov installed service module debris protection panels and rerouted a Global Positioning System antenna cable in what was the first spacewalk for both men.
The debris protection panels, each about 1-inch thick, are designed to protect the space station from small- and medium-sized cosmic dust particles and meteorites as well as manmade particles that come off launch vehicles.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration tracks larger particles by radar and can maneuver the space station from such larger objects' paths. Additional debris protection panels are to be installed during a second spacewalk next week.
The GPS system will be used with the large, unpiloted European Automated Transfer Vehicle that's scheduled to make its first cargo launch later this year.
Although space station control is maintained by NASA controllers in Houston, Wednesday's spacewalk was coordinated by the Russian Space Agency from its control center near Moscow.