Thursday, May 14, 2009

Live In Orbit: 1st Hubble Spacewalk Is "Too Cool"

A pair of spacewalking astronauts now are outside shuttle Atlantis, setting out on an excursion aimed at outfitting the Hubble Space Telescope with a new planetary camera and a critical science instrument control unit.

Atlantis lead spaceewalker John Grunsfeld was the first out of the opened hatch of the shuttle's external airlock, which is mounted at the forward end of the ship's 60-foot-long cargo bay.

"We see you coming out," crewmate Mike Massimino said from the aft flight deck of Atlantis, where he will be directing the spacewalking work today.

"Aw, this is fantastic," said Grunsfeld, who is making his third trip to Hubble and his sixth Hubble servicing spacewalk.

First-time flyer and rookie spacewalker Drew Feustel followed Grunsfeld into the cargo bay.

"Ahh. Too cool," he said. "Woo-hoo!"

"You guys look great," Massimino chimed in. "Drew, you look awesome. You can see the reflection of the Earth in your visor."

"Fantastic," Feustel replied.

Today's spacewalk started about 37 minutes later than scheduled and is expected to take 6.5 hours to complete. The official start time -- which was marked when the astronauts switched their spacesuits to battery power in the airlock -- was 8:52 a.m.

The astronauts are spending the first 50 minutes of their spacewalk setting up for the servicing work planned for the day.

Grunsfeld is wearing the spacesuit with the red stripes on its legs. He is answering to the radio call sign "EV-1."

Feustel is wearing an all-white spacesuit and is answering to the call sign "EV-2."

Throughout the spacewalk, you'll see views from the astronauts "helmet-cams." A small, faint No. 19 in the lower righthand side of the frame indicates the view is coming from Grunsfeld's helmet-cam. A No. 20 indicates the view if coming from Feustel's helmet-cam.

You can watch the spacewalk unfold here in The Flame Trench by clicking on the Live Shuttle Broadcast box on the righthand side of this page.

Be sure to refresh this page, too, for periodic updates.

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