Thursday, November 19, 2009

Atlantis astronauts begin first spacewalk

Atlantis spacewalkers Mike Foreman and Bobby Satcher switched their spacesuits to battery power at 9:24 a.m. EST, officially beginning the first of three spacewalks during the 11-day shuttle mission.

Foreman, making his fourth spacewalk, is wearing a suit marked with red stripes on the legs, is responding the the radio call sign "EV-1." His helmet camera shows No. 16 in the bottom right corner.

Satcher, making his first spacewalk, has a plain white suit and is "EV-2." His helmet camera shows No. 18.

Satcher will enjoy a long, sweeping ride on the station's 58-foot robotic arm during today's planned 6.5 hour spacewalk, which was scheduled to end at 3:48 p.m.

He'll first work to install a foot restraint on the arm, while Foreman detaches a spare S-band communications antenna assembly from the sidewall of the shuttle's payload bay.

He'll hand the 256-pound antenna off to Satcher, who will ride with it up to the station's Z1 truss segment. Foreman will climb to that location and help with the installation.

Atlantis pilot Barry Wilmore and mission specialist Leland Melvin will be operating the station's robotic arm, while mission specialist Randy Bresnik will serve as the choreographer from inside.

The spare antenna was refurbished on the ground after a September 2006 failure in orbit. The installation is scheduled to take about 2 hours, 45 minutes.

Click here to open a NASA TV video player and watch the entire spacewalk live.

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