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Nation & World

Russian astronauts take spacewalk at space station

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Two space station astronauts took care of a little outside maintenance Monday.

Russian flight engineers Fyodor Yurchikhin and Alexander Misurkin replaced a main valve on the International Space Station, after emerging from their 250-mile-high home.

"To save the time, I'm embroidering," one of the spacewalkers said in Russian, holding a clump of cord as he worked on the fluid valve. "It's not easy to handle all these ropes." Later, he added, "OK, now we're doing bead work."

Also on the spacewalkers' to-do list: installing clamps and retrieving science experiments. Some of the work will pave the way for the arrival of a new Russian compartment at the end of this year.

The year's third spacewalk was under the direction of Russian Mission Control outside Moscow. The four other space station residents monitored the action from inside.

Yurchikhin arrived at the space station just a few weeks ago. Misurkin has been on board since March.

The crew includes three Russians, two Americans and one Italian. The Italian and one American will conduct a pair of spacewalks for NASA in July.

Begun in 1998, the space station still is one room short.

The Russian Space Agency plans to launch a research lab to replace the Pirs air lock that has been in place since 2001. An unmanned Proton rocket will hoist the lab, which also will serve as an air lock for spacewalk preparations and a docking port for visiting craft. As for Pirs — Russian for pier — it will be cut loose before the launch of its replacement and burn up upon re-entry as junk.

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Online:

NASA: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html

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