With Commander Frank Culbertson watching from inside, Dezhurov and Tyurin worked swiftly to clear the debris during a 2-hour, 46-minute spacewalk, the fourth of the expedition and the 30th devoted to ISS assembly and maintenance. With the seal removed, Russian flight controllers commanded the Progress' docking probe to retract fully, and a hard mate between the two craft was completed at 8:54 a.m. CST. Progress had initially docked with Zvezda last Wednesday, but hooks and latches between the craft failed to fully engage because of the debris, apparently left on the docking interface when an old Progress resupply vehicle was jettisoned on Nov. 22.
Dezhurov, who was making the 9th spacewalk of his career, and Tyurin, who was conducting the 3rd spacewalk in his first flight into space, exited the Pirs Docking Compartment at 7:20 a.m. CST with one goal in mind --- clearing the obstruction which prevented the Progress from completing a hard docking and a tight seal with Zvezda last Wednesday at the completion of a two-day free flight following its launch. The docking problem postponed last week's launch of Endeavour to bring the new residents --- the Expedition Four crew --- to the ISS.
Once they made their way to the aft end of Zvezda, Dezhurov used a tool to cut the seal, which then was easily stripped away from the circumference of the aft docking port of the Service Module. With the debris removed, Russian flight controllers initiated the mating of Progress and Zvezda, completing the repair effort. With their work completed, Dezhurov and Tyurin took a number of pictures of the debris and the docking interface between Progress and Zvezda, and returned to Pirs, closing the hatch at 10:06 a.m. CST.
The spacewalk now sets the stage for Endeavour's launch at 4:45 p.m. CST Tuesday on an 11-day mission to deliver the next trio of residents to the ISS as well as several tons of equipment and food. The launch was delayed from last Thursday to enable Russian flight controllers to plan for the contingency spacewalk. Endeavour's launch is scheduled on the third anniversary of its launch in 1998 on the first ISS assembly flight which mated the Unity connecting node to the Zarya Control Module.
The International Space Station is orbiting at an average altitude of 247 statute miles (397 km).
Human physiology experiments continue to be a focus of crew science activities as the crew prepares for its return home. Autonomous microgravity materials research continued to accumulate scientific experiment run time hours in a variety of disciplines.