Video: Cosmonauts throw student CubeSats into orbit during ISS spacewalk

On Wednesday, Russian flight engineers Oleg Artemyev and Sergey Prokopyev made a spacewalk outside the International Space Station.  Their initial tasks included hurling four student-built smallsats into orbit: Spacewalkers toss nanosatellites into orbit, hook up bird migration monitor – Spaceflight Now

The spacewalkers’ first task was the deployment — by hand — of four CubeSats built by Russian students.

The cosmonauts carried with them two Tanyusha satellites, each about the size of a small toaster oven, built by students at Southwestern State University with demo payloads to study spacecraft autonomy technology and to measure the vacuum of space. Another pair of SiriusSat CubeSats, assembled by Russian schoolchildren and equipped with particle detectors, was also with the cosmonauts.

Prokopyev tossed the four nanosatellites into space by hand just outside the Pirs airlock, using a manual release method used on previous Russian spacewalks.

Here is a video of the hand-tossed orbital deployments plus views of the tiny satellites drifting away from the station:

Most of the rest of the nearly 8 hour long EVA involved installation of an antenna and related equipment for a German project to track animals wearing GPS transmitters:

Then the duo turned their attention to the installation of antennas and cables for a German-developed instrument package to track global animal movements. The equipment was placed outside the station’s Zvezda service module in a multi-step procedure that took a couple of hours longer than originally planned.

Called Icarus, the project aims to reveal changes in migratory routes, animal connections and other animal behavior. The antenna for Icarus was carried aloft in February, and a computer launched on a Russian Progress mission last year to help process the signals coming from tracking units tagged to animals on Earth.

“Icarus is a global collaboration of research scientists that are interested in life on the globe, and once we put together all the information on mobile animals, then we have a different and new understanding of life on Earth,” said Martin Wikelski, lead scientist on the Icarus project, director of the Max Planck Institute of Ornithology, and professor the University of Konstanz in Germany.

The Icarus project will start by tracking small animals, such as birds, bats and flying foxes, according to DLR, the German Aerospace Center. Tags fixed to the animals will transmit information on their migratory behavior — such as their GPS coordinates, acceleration and environmental data — up to a receiver on the space station.

See also