Cosmonauts embark on six-hour spacewalk outside International Space Station

 One of two Russian cosmonauts works outside the International Space Station in this Monday image from NASA TV.  ISS Expedition 44 Commander Gennady Padalka and Flight Engineer Mikhail Kornienko of the Russian Federal Space Agency will install device
One of two Russian cosmonauts works outside the International Space Station in this Monday image from NASA TV. ISS Expedition 44 Commander Gennady Padalka and Flight Engineer Mikhail Kornienko of the Russian Federal Space Agency will install devices called gap spanners on the hull of the station that will facilitate the movement of crew members on future spacewalks. They also will clean residue off of the windows of the Zvezda Service Module, install fasteners on communications antennas, replace an aging antenna used for the rendezvous and docking of visiting vehicles at Russian docking ports, and photograph a variety of locations and hardware on Zvezda and nearby modules.PHOTO: AFP

MOSCOW, (REUTERS) - A pair of Russian cosmonauts began their working week on Monday by cleaning the windows of the International Space Station (ISS), floating more than 320 km above the earth's surface.

Station commander Gennady Padalka and flight engineer Mikhail Kornienko left the station's Pirs module, embarking on a six-hour space walk to install new equipment and carry out maintenance tasks.

The cosmonauts quickly completed their first task, installing equipment to help crew members manoeuvre outside the ISS, before cleaning a porthole window to remove years of dirt left by exhaust fumes from visiting ships.

"They developed a (cleaning) tool kit with two swabs with handles on them. The swabs are kind of a type of terry cloth,"spacewalk specialist Devan Bolch said in a NASA video published before the walk. "It's kind of similar to what you would use on your car headlights, when they get hazy, to clean them."

The expedition is the 188th ISS spacewalk and the tenth for Padalka, who has spent more time in space than any other human. It is Kornienko's second venture outside the station - a US$100 billion (S$138 billion) research laboratory owned and operated by a partnership of 15 nations.