Thursday, November 19, 2009

Atlantis spacewalkers ahead of schedule

Atlantis spacewalkers are running so far ahead of schedule that they are moving on to a previously unplanned "get ahead" task, the deployment of a cargo carrier.

Rookie spacewalker Bobby Satcher, an orthopedic surgeon, easily lubed the snares on two grappling hands with the aid of a grease gun and pliers.

Foreman used wire ties to route some cables along the Destiny lab and replace a handrail on the Unity node, a bit of prep work for the planned arrival next year of the Tranquility module - the last major U.S. addition to the space station.

He also used an adaptor to connect a power cable that had given spacewalkers trouble on the last mission, Discovery's STS-128 flight.

Now Foreman is recharging his oxygen supply at the Quest airlock while Satcher collects a tool bag.

They'll attempt to deploy a cargo attach mechanism on the Earth-facing side of the Starboard 3 segment of the station's central truss, a projected two-hour job.

Past spacewalkers have also struggled with this task; a similar mechanism jammed during this year's first shuttle mission, STS-119. The Atlantis spacewalkers have a newly designed tool that they can use if they experience similar problems.

Deployments of two attach mechanisms on the S3 truss had been planned during the mission's second and third spacewalks.

Today's spacewalk began at 9:24 a.m. EST. The first job done was the installation of a spare communications antenna.

No comments: