ISS Crew Sends Satellites Into Space, Installs Bird Trackers

ISS Crew Sends Satellites Into Space, Installs Bird Trackers
NASA TV Images. (AP/Screenshot)

Spacewalking cosmonauts have set up an antenna for tracking birds on Earth and sent a series of tiny satellites flying from the International Space Station.

Russian Sergey Prokopyev used his gloved right hand to fling four research satellites into space on Wednesday.

The first mini satellite safely tumbled away as the space station soared 250 miles (402 kilometres) above Illinois.

NASA TV images.
NASA TV Images. (AP/Screenshot)

By the time the fourth one was on its way 14 minutes later, the station was almost to Spain.

Two were the size of a tissue box, while the other two were longer.

With that quickly behind them, Prokopyev and Oleg Artemyev spent the next several hours installing the antenna for a German-led, animal-tracking project known as Icarus, short for International Cooperation for Animal Research Using Space.

NASA TV Images.
NASA TV Images. (AP/Screenshot)

The cosmonauts had to unreel, drag and connect long, white cables in order to provide power and data to the system.

At one point, Artemyev had to pull out a sharp knife to deal with a twisted cable.

A quick test verified the Icarus electrical connections.

But the cosmonauts were running behind by this point, and their spacewalk ended up lasting nearly eight hours, longer than anticipated.

The project will start out tracking blackbirds and turtle doves already outfitted with small GPS tags, then move on to other songbirds, fruit bats and bigger wildlife.

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