Monday, July 27, 2009

Live in orbit: first camera installed on porch

Blogger update, 10:06 a.m.: Cassidy has installed the porch's rear camera.

Endeavour spacewalker Chris Cassidy has bolted the first of two video cameras into place on the Japanese Kibo lab's "porch" outside the International Space Station.

The addition of one more camera on the back of the exposed deck will complete the mission's work on the facility.

Spacewalkers installed the new experiment-holding porch more than a week ago, the day after Endeavour docked at the station. The shuttle is scheduled to undock Tuesday afternoon.

The cameras will be used to assist with the first docking of an unmanned Japanese cargo ship, the H-II Transfer Vehicle, or HTV, anticipated in September.

Cassidy is working with partner Tom Marshburn, who is already at work removing launch locks and covers from the second camera.

They quickly completed the first tasks of the mission's fifth and final spacewalk, which began around 7:30 a.m. and is running ahead of schedule.

Marshburn tightened some loose insulating covers on the Canadian-built robot called Dextre, which is designed to install some spare parts without needing to conduct a spacewalk.

Cassidy rewired power to two gyroscopes, and mission controllers reported that the procedure was successful.

Later, they'll install a mechanism that will hold large spare parts on the station's central truss, or backbone.

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