Cosmonauts Cleaned Windows On ISS Spacewalk, Proving Humdrum Tasks Much Cooler In Space

Think cleaning your windows is an arduous task? Try living on the International Space Station. A couple cosmonauts had to do a bit of domestic chores this week — 250 miles above the Earth.

At least the view was spectacular.

As the cosmonauts cleaned windows and performed other maintenance tasks during their spacewalk Monday, Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren of NASA, and Kimiya Yui of the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, ate some red-romaine lettuce, drizzled with oil-and-vinegar dressing, NBC News and BBC reported.

Perhaps the cosmonauts got the short end of the stick.

The tasks facing them were much more arduous — they installed equipment that’ll help other crew maneuver outside ISS; performed some maintenance on experiments and retrieved one that explored the effect of superheated gas on the ISS hull, added; and took some snapshots of the station’s Russian section.

And the most important job on the to-do list of any domestic goddess: the cosmonauts cleaned windows, or more specifically, a porthole that was grimy from the residue of exhaust fumes left by visiting spaceships.

Cleaning windows isn’t quite the same on ISS as it is on Earth, though, spacewalk specialist Devan Bolch explained before the walk.

“They developed a (cleaning) tool kit with two swabs with handles on them. The swabs are kind of a type of terry cloth. It’s kind of similar to what you would use on your car headlights, when they get hazy, to clean them.”

In total, the cosmonaut’s spacewalk mission took under six hours, or 30 minutes ahead of schedule. Perhaps that’s because it was conducted by one of the most experienced spacewalkers in history — Expedition 44 commander Gennady Padalka’s 10th. His partner in the cleaning mission was flight engineer Mikhail Kornienko; it was his second time.

And while cleaning windows may be a fairly boring job here on the blue planet, out in space it affords the opportunity to take some amazing pictures. While outside, the cosmonauts took some panoramas of Earth, including Australia and the city of Brisbane.

As for the lettuce that Kelly, Lindgren, and Yui sampled, it was part of a greater experiment to see if we can grow vegetables and therefore feed astronauts on longer missions.

“(This) marks a milestone, the first space-grown lettuce that is actually consumed in orbit by ISS crew,” NASA mission commentator Rob Navias.

[Photo Courtesy International Space Station via Twitter]