On June 22, 2023, the extravehicular activity (EVA) named VKD-59 by Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergei Prokopiev and Dmitri Petelin took place. During the 6 hours and 23 minutes of work outside the Russian segment of the ISS, various maintenance jobs were carried out, including an unusual task of cleaning a porthole of the Zvezda service module.
A routine activity
After the intense work carried out on the exterior of the Nauka module to finish the integration of the European robotic arm ERA and the installation of new external radiators, cosmonauts Prokopiev and Petelin were called to a series of additional activities considered routine maintenance.
In particular, they removed a seismic sensor, called Seismoprognoz, and replaced two transceiver devices called SVPI and TM/TS which were replaced with a more advanced high-speed system called RSPI-M.
Subsequently, a micrometeorite impact detection instrument and a container, the SKK N-4SM, were removed where different materials were exposed to the conditions of outer space for 19 years.
Finally, a rack containing a biological experiment, called Biorisk-MSN, was removed from the Poisk module.
It is a pressurized container containing biological material, mainly seeds, bacteria, and fungi, which has been exposed to external radiation for 18 months.
What state is the Zvezda service module in?
Launched on July 12 and docked with the nascent ISS on July 16, 2000, the Zvezda service module is one of the station’s three oldest modules.
It is a module of the same type as the DOS modules of the Saljut-6 and 7 space stations, as well as the Zarya and Nauka. A standardized habitation module that is still widely used even in China’s Tiangong National Space Station.
The two cosmonauts carried out numerous photographic surveys, in particular of the docking hatch aft of the service module. Furthermore, the conditions of the various antennas positioned along its hull were verified.
Commander Prokopiev, inspecting the hull, exclaimed that “it looks like a very used frying pan” to underline a large number of abrasions and small burns present on the external surface.
Finally, thanks to the collaboration of the other cosmonaut on board the ISS, Andrey Fedyaev, the two cosmonauts outside, using a special brush, proceeded to clean the external windows of the Zvezda portholes.
Not quite an activity you would expect to see performed outside a space station, but after twenty-three years, it had probably become necessary…