Monday, July 27, 2009

Astronauts finish final spacewalk

Astronauts from the space shuttle Endeavour climbed back into the International Space Station on Monday after finishing the fifth and final spacewalk of their mission.

American astronauts Tom Marshburn and Christopher Cassidy completed the spacewalk in a relatively brisk four hours and 54 minutes, finishing at 12:27 p.m. ET, after NASA decided to defer to a future mission a plan to add more storage capability to the station's external structure.

The pair performed a number of maintenance tasks outside the orbiting platform, including folding a piece of insulation that popped up on the Canadian-made Dextre robotic manipulator, an extension of the station's Canadarm 2.

They also rearranged some power cable hookups, installed video cameras on the exposed "porch" of Japan's Kibo laboratory and installed a few handrails to aid future spacewalkers.

Endeavour arrived a week and a half ago, and its seven-person crew joined the station's six-man team to install Kibo's exposed laboratory and perform a number of other maintenance tasks. With 13 astronauts in total at the joined shuttle-station, the mission featured the largest-ever gathering of people in space.

The shuttle is scheduled to depart on Tuesday, taking with it six of the astronauts who flew up to the station, including Canadian Julie Payette. Joining them on board Endeavour will be Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata, who had been a member of the station crew.

Tim Kopra of the U.S., who arrived aboard Endeavour, will remain on board with fellow American Michael Barratt, Russian cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Roman Romanenko, Belgian astronaut Frank De Winne and Canadian Robert Thirsk of New Westminster, B.C.

Endeavour is scheduled to return to the NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Friday.

No comments:

Post a Comment