Feb. 5 (UPI) -- A pair of Russian cosmonauts didn't set out to break the record for longest Russian spacewalk, but what seemed like a relatively straight forward mission turned out to be surprisingly complicated.
Expedition commander Alexander Misurkin and flight engineer Anton Shkaplerov spent 8 hours and 13 minutes outside the International Space Station, a record in Russian space history. In 2013, a pair of cosmonauts spent 8 hours and 7 minutes outside the space station.
On Friday, the duo were were tasked with replacing an electronics box for a communication antennae. But after replacing the old box and installing the new one, the cosmonauts realized the antennae wasn't extending after being folded up during repairs.
Misurkin and Shkaplerov struggled to get the box and antennae into proper positioning so that it could fully extend. After more than eight hours, they succeeded.
"The antenna system appears to be working normally," NASA reported.
However, the antennae is still positioned 180 degrees askew. Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, is looking into whether the technology will need to be adjusted further during a future spacewalk.
Part of the reason the mission took so long, NASA TV commentator Rob Navias said during the online broadcast, is that the electronics box is bulky and difficult to handle with the rather clunky space gloves worn during spacewalks.
Despite the trouble, the box needed to be replaced. With new technology being added to the space station's operational and communications systems all the time, the box had become outdated. After the old box was removed, the cosmonauts tossed it into space. It will eventually burn up in Earth's atmosphere.
"This will upgrade the performance telemetry and high-data-rate capability on the Russian segment of the ISS and make it similar to the data rate seen in the U.S. Ku band communications system on the U.S. segment," Navias said of the upgrade.
The next spacewalk is scheduled for Feb. 15. It will be carried out by NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai.