ISS astronauts venture out into space

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On Tuesday astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) ventured out into space for the first of two spacewalks planned for July. European Space Agency's Luca Parmitano and NASA's Chris Cassidy stepped outside the orbiting laboratory to replace a space-to-ground communications receiver, retrieve several experiments and install power cables for a Russian laboratory module set to launch and dock with the station later this year. This successful deep space operation is proving what can be achieved through international cooperation. 37-year-old Luca Parmitano is the youngest person to be given a long-duration International Space Station assignment and the first Italian astronaut to walk into space. During his space walk Parmitano also photographed the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a $2-billion, seven-tonne device designed to trawl for anti-matter as well as spotting traces of the dark matter that makes up 25 per cent of the universe. The mission could not have a more cheerful Italian name: Volare, which means "to fly" in Italian and is reminiscent of a very famous song by the world-famous Italian singer Domenico Modugno in 1958. Italian Space Agency chief Mr. Enrico Saggese said when astronaut Parmitano zoomed up to the International Space Station last May that this mission would give Italy a much-needed boost. Mr. Saggese reckons that at times of crisis like this, such successes in space should supply a bit of confidence and a spur to do better, to go forward. At an altitude of 400 kilometers, the International Space Station has an orbital speed of 28,000 kilometers per hour. Astronauts Parmitano and Cassidy will set foot outside the station again on July 16.

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