ISS Spacewalk Begins; Astro-Golf Stunt Nixed

Two crew members ventured out of the international space station Thursday night for a nearly six-hour spacewalk filled with maintenance tasks such as replacing a camera and fixing an oxygen system.

"OK. We're going out," said Russian commander Pavel Vinogradov as he and U.S. flight engineer Jeff Williams exited the Russian side of the station in their bulky suits while the outpost soared more than 220 miles above Earth.

Vinogradov attached himself to the end of a boom and Williams maneuvered him to an area on the station where the Russian commander installed a new vent for a broken oxygen-generation system. At one point, the spacewalkers were bathed in a golden glow from a sunset over the Pacific Ocean. After the sun passed, the temperature got chilly.

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"My feet are like ice," Williams joked in Russian when asked if he was cold. A Russian flight controller responded, "We need to put brandy into the system instead of water."

Vinogradov and Williams were scheduled, among other things, to reposition a cable, replace a camera and retrieve a thruster residue collection plate, a contamination monitoring device and biology experiments.

The spacewalk was the first scheduled for the two crewmen since their arrival at the space station in early April. During their careers, Vinogradov has conducted five previous spacewalks; Williams has made one.

The maintenance tasks left little time for publicity stunts. Plans were scratched for Vinogradov to whack a golf ball into orbit for the longest drive in history.

A Canadian golf club manufacturer paid Russia's space agency an undisclosed amount to have Vinogradov hit the gold-plated golf ball into space, but the stunt was postponed until later in the year.

Nataliya Hearn, president and chief executive of Element 21 Golf, said NASA had asked the Russians to use the half-hour instead to replace a camera on a transport platform that is being used to construct the space station.

NASA officials disputed that account, saying the golf company had asked for the postponement.

A few items needed for the spacewalk got lost somewhere inside the cluttered space station. Among them: part of a Russian foot restraint for holding Vinogradov in place at the end of the 55-foot boom. He used a U.S.-made tether instead.