Spacewalking cosmonauts heave a 20-pound metal ball into Earth orbit

Yesterday, while those of us in the U.S. were having lunch, Russian cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Yuri Malenchenko were walking in space. And they were tossing spaceballs.

The pair spent nearly six hours working outside the International Space Station, moving the Strela-2 — a hand-operated, telescoping crane — from one module of the spacecraft to another, installing new debris shields, and heaving a 20-pound, spherical satellite into orbit. According to SPACE.com, Russian scientists hope to use the 21-inch-wide steel-encased ball to test techniques for monitoring space junk. Cameras inside Padalka's helmet and on the hull of the ISS captured the some beautiful footage of the spacewalk, including some great shots of Padalka releasing the sphere below and behind the station, in order to prevent it from colliding with the ISS in the future.

We've included some of our favorite shots of the spacewalk below, but you'll find many more, along with more details on the mission, at MSNBC and SPACE.com.

All photos courtesy NASA TV via SPACE.com, click any image to enlarge

Spacewalking cosmonauts heave a 20-pound metal ball into Earth orbit

Malenchenko and Padalka working on the Strela-2 crane


Spacewalking cosmonauts heave a 20-pound metal ball into Earth orbitA view of Earth from Padalka's helmet cam
Spacewalking cosmonauts heave a 20-pound metal ball into Earth orbitPadalka, pictured left, carries the satellite seconds before releasing it into orbit
Spacewalking cosmonauts heave a 20-pound metal ball into Earth orbitPadalka releases the satellite
Spacewalking cosmonauts heave a 20-pound metal ball into Earth orbitA camera aboard the ISS looks on as the steel-encased sphere drifts away
Spacewalking cosmonauts heave a 20-pound metal ball into Earth orbitThe satellite, barely visible in the gap between the ISS and Earth.
Spacewalking cosmonauts heave a 20-pound metal ball into Earth orbitA detailed view of the satellite's design