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Russian Veteran Cosmonaut Becomes World's Oldest Spacewalker

First Posted: Apr 20, 2013 02:59 PM EDT

Russian veteran cosmonauts Pavel Vinogradov and Roman Romanenko ventured outside of the International Space Station Friday, installing a space weather monitor and replacing a navigation aid before wrapping up a six-hour 38-minute excursion.

Vinogradov, a cosmonaut for two decades, claimed the honor as he emerged from the hatch. However, he inadvertently added to the booming population of space junk when he lost his grip on an experiment tray that he was retrieving toward the end of the 6 1/2-hour spacewalk.

The lost aluminum panel -- 18 inches by 12 inches and about 6 1/2 pounds -- contained metal samples. Scientists wanted to see how the samples had fared after a year out in the vacuum of space.

Experts at the Johnson Space Center in Houston said the panel's trajectory likely would take it out of the space station's path on future orbits and it eventually would burn up in the atmosphere.

The task was supposed to take 6 hours but ran longer because of an equipment failure, RIA Novosti reported.

Russian flight controllers outside Moscow are overseeing all the action 260 miles up. This is the first of eight spacewalks to be conducted this year.

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