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Cosmonauts complete spacewalk at International Space Station

By
Daniel Uria

May 29 (UPI) -- A pair of Russian cosmonauts completed a spacewalk on Wednesday to retrieve science experiments and carry out maintenance on the International Space Station.

Expedition 59 commander Oleg Kononenko and fellow cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin stepped out of the space station at 11:42 a.m. and returned about 6 hours later to close the hatch at 5:43 p.m. after completing the spacewalk, which was being live streamed on NASA's YouTube channel.

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The pair began the exhibition by sending out a special greeting to Alexey Leonov, the first man to walk in space, for his 85th birthday.

Russian space agency Roscosmos said the spacewalk -- the 217th spacewalk devoted to station assembly since 1998 -- was dedicated to Leonov, "the man who took a step into the unknown and found himself one-on-one with unlimited outer space."

The two cosmonauts then turned their attention to maintaining the ship, including installing a handrail and cleaning the windows.

They also retrieved science experiments from the outside of the space station, removing and jettisoning plasma wave experiment hardware from the Poisk module's hull.

Wednesday's spacewalk was the fifth of Kononenko's career and the first that Ovchinin has participated in, as he prepares to become station commander next month.

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Kononenko is set to return to earth on June 24 after a 6.5-month mission living and working on the space station.

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