Cosmonaut Vasily Tsiblyev and astronaut Jerry Linenger conducted the first Russian/US spacewalk on 29 April, working outside the Mir 1 space station for 4h 57min in a rehearsal for the joint walks required during the assembly and operation of the International Space Station (ISS).

The spacewalkers deployed two environmental and radiation experiments outside the Kvant 2 module and retrieved two experiment packages, deployed by a previous cosmonaut crew. Linenger and Tsiblyev also evaluated a tether which will be used by spacewalkers during the assembly of the ISS.

It was Linenger's first spacewalk and Tsiblyev's sixth. He and flight engineer Alexander Lazutkin will make two more walks during their 200-day shift aboard the station.

A reciprocal spacewalk planned during the seventh Shuttle Mir Mission (SMM), on the STS86 Atlantis in September, will feature Russian cosmonaut Vladimir Titov - an STS86 crewman - making a spacewalk in a NASA spacesuit.

Linenger, more than 100 days into his visit to the Mir, is to be replaced by Michael Foale who will be among the six-person crew of the SMM 6/STS84/Atlantis mission, due for launch on 15 May.

NASA had been considering not leaving Foale aboard the Mir, following a series of environmental problems aboard the Russian station (Flight International, 23-29 April, P23).

These concerns were reportedly resolved, despite the fact that crew members were still suffering from the after-effects of working in temperatures above 30¼C, and the leakage of 1.6 litres of alcohol and ethylene glycol from cooling system pipework, repairs to which had not been completed at the time of the spacewalk.

An Elektron oxygen generator to be fitted on the Mir is being delivered by the STS 84 mision. The Shuttle will remain docked to the Mir for an extra day to complete the installation and to assist in further repairs. NASA will equip the Atlantis with an extra seat in case Foale returns with Linenger.

Source: Flight International