Two Russian cosmonauts conducted a spacewalk on Thursday intended to activate a new segment on the International Space Station so it can dock Russian spacecraft.

The effort was expected to last nearly six hours, and Americans Jeff Williams and Timothy J. Creamer and Soichi Noguchi of Japan were supporting the mission from inside the space station.

Cosmonauts Maxim Suraev and Oleg Kotov ventured into open space at 1:05 p.m. Moscow time (1005 GMT, 5:05 a.m. EST) to activate the new module and make it ready for docking, said Mission Control spokesman Valery Lyndin.

They will work on the Russian Poisk module to link it to the station’s communications and power systems, and prepare it for future dockings with the Russian spacecraft, Lyndin said. The research module was launched in November.

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