CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Spacewalking astronauts launched a tiny Peruvian research satellite Monday, setting it loose on a mission to observe Earth.

Russian Oleg Artemiev cast the 4-inch box off with his gloved right hand as the International Space Station sailed 260 miles above the planet. The nanosatellite gently tumbled as it cleared the vicinity of the orbiting complex, precisely as planned.

“One, two, three,” someone called out in Russian as Artemiev let go of the satellite.

Cameras watched as the nanosatellite – named Chasqui after the Inca messengers who were fleet of foot – increased its distance and grew smaller. Artemiev’s Russian spacewalking partner, Alexander Skvortsov, tried to keep his helmet camera aimed at the satellite as it floated away.

The satellite – barely 2 pounds – holds instruments to measure temperature and pressure, and cameras that will photograph Earth. It’s a technological learning experience for the National University of Engineering in Lima. A Russian cargo ship delivered the device earlier this year.

Less than a half-hour into the spacewalk, the satellite was on its way, flying freely.

With that completed, Artemiev and Skvortsov set about installing fresh science experiments outside the Russian portion of the space station and retrieving old ones.