Saturday, September 05, 2009

Live in Orbit: Mission's final spacewalk complete

The third and final spacewalk of shuttle Discovery's mission is in the books.

Inside the International Space Station's Quest airlock, Danny Olivas and Fuglesang have plugged back into station power and communications lines, officially ending a spacewalk that lasted one minute past seven hours.

That brings the mission's total spacewalking time to 20 hours and 15 minutes.

All three spacewalks achieved their major goals, though today's ended with a bit of frustration.

During the first spacewalk, on Tuesday, Olivas and station flight director Nicole Stott removed an old ammonia coolant tank and recovered two sets of experiments from the Columbus lab.

Two days later, Olivas and Fuglesang paired up for the first time to install a new ammonia tank and return the old one to Discovery's payload bay.

Today, Olivas and Fuglesang deployed an attachment mechanism for a spare parts carrier, replaced a circuit breaker and a box holding gyroscope sensors, installed two Global Positioning Systems antennas and routed a pair of 60-foot avionics cables for a future module.

The spacewalk was running well ahead of schedule until one of the cables couldn't be plugged in to its connecting port on the station's truss.

Then Fuglesang's helmet camera came loose, forcing him to head back inside.

"You guys did an awesome job, thank you so much for your help," Olivas radioed to ground controllers from the airlock.

"It was a super effort by everybody," someone replied from NASA's Mission Control Center in Houston.

It was the 133rd spacewalk supporting station assembly and maintenance, and the fifth for Olivas and Fuglesang. Here is the total spacewalking time each has accumulated:

++ Olivas: 34 hours, 28 minutes.
++ Fuglesang: 31 hours, 54 minutes.
++ Discovery's STS-128 mission: 20 hours, 15 minutes.
++ Space station assembly/maintenance: 830 hours, 51 minutes.

NASA has scheduled a 1 a.m. news briefing to recap today's action and update the rest of the mission. Watch it live by clicking on the NASA TV still image on the right side of the page.

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