New satellite to commemorate first space flight

Two Russian cosmonauts have left the International Space Station for a six-hour spacewalk to mark the 50th anniversary of the first-ever manned space flight by Yuri Gagarin with the launch of the unique microsatellite.

­The cosmonauts will spend about six hours outside the ISS and for the first time ever computerized Orlan-MK spacesuits with liquid crystal displays will give advice and instructions in case of emergency situations, such as increased oxygen consumption.

During the spacewalk, the cosmonauts will launch a microsatellite made entirely by Russian university students.

The satellite – which is dubbed “Kedr” (cedar) after Yuri Gagarin’s call sign – will be broadcasting greeting messages from outer space in 50 different languages to mark the 50th anniversary of the first-ever manned space flight.

The cosmonauts will also install laser communication equipment on the outside of the Russian segment of the ISS. However, it does not mean high-speed internet will be available in the Russian segment, as long as “the new optical equipment is intended primarily to transfer science video to enhance the efficiency of the scientific activity of the cosmonauts,” the head of the extravehicular activity department of RSC Energia, Aleksandr Polishchuk said.

With the US Shuttle program shutting down last month, Russia is currently the only nation able to send people to the stars.