Let’s be honest, spacewalks, as a whole, can be pretty boring to watch.
Yes, it’s one of the most dangerous things an astronaut or cosmonaut can do in space: floating out into the void with just a relatively thin spacesuit to protect them.
But at the end of the day, these spacewalks usually amount to some pretty tedious tasks performed in the name of routine maintenance on the International Space Station.
However, this week, things got a little more interesting.
On Tuesday, Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Sergey Prokopyev ventured outside of the station to perform a little rocket surgery.
The cosmonauts headed out on the spacewalk to inspect a Soyuz capsule — used by the astronauts and cosmonauts to fly to and from the space station — to make sure it was well-fixed after an earlier repair.
Sounds pretty easy right? Wrong. At various times Kononenko and Prokopyev had to use what looked like garden shears and knives to actually cut through the tough insulation on the outside of the Soyuz.
It looked pretty dang dramatic.
All that cutting and chopping — which is pretty intense considering the only thing protecting the crewmembers from the vacuum of space was a pressurized suit — created a whole bunch of debris.
NASA expects that this won’t be a problem, however, and most of it should fall harmlessly through the Earth’s atmosphere, burning up in the process, in the next few days.
The cosmonauts were so focused on their tasks that they all but refused to take even a 2 minute break as they were working in tough conditions for more than 7 hours.
While the spacewalk made for some entertaining NASA TV, it was all in the name of safety.
Russia felt that the cosmonauts needed to cut through the tough insulation on the Soyuz to figure out more about what caused the air leak before the ship brings a crew back home to Earth on December 19.
The actual leak was discovered in August when mission managers noticed a dip in pressure on the station that was traced to the Soyuz, NASA said.
Crewmembers patched the leak and since then, pressure hasn’t been a problem on the station.
Kononenko and Prokopyev took photos and inspected the problem part of the Soyuz, so hopefully now mission managers will have enough information to get to the bottom of what actually caused the craft to spring a leak.
Initially, managers thought that the Soyuz could have been hit by a meteor, but further inspection caused some speculation that a drilling mishap on the ground could have punched the hole.
Hopefully this spacewalk will get to the bottom of exactly what happened.