MOSCOW (AP) — Russian cosmonauts admired the sunrise and joked with Mission Control on Wednesday as they capped a hectic series of spacewalks to replace a spent engine.
The spacewalk was the fifth time this month that cosmonauts Talgat Musabayev and Nikolai Budarin ventured into open space to work on Mir’s exterior. On Wednesday, the pair installed the solar orientation engine and then unfolded the 46-foot girder to which it was attached.
The engine keeps the space station’s solar panels directed toward the sun, from which they draw energy. Such engines need to be replaced when their supply of some 880 pounds of fuel is exhausted.
The old engine ran out of fuel during a spacewalk on April 6, forcing the cosmonauts to rush back to the station and switch on another engine to restore Mir’s orientation.
The mission Wednesday was the last of three spacewalks to replace the engine.
Mission Control planned to start testing