Thursday, November 19, 2009

Atlantis spacewalkers prepare for first outing

Atlantis astronauts Mike Foreman and Bobby Satcher are getting ready to begin the shuttle mission's first of three spacewalks outside the International Space Station, scheduled to start at 9:18 a.m.

Their primary task is to install a spare S-band communications antenna outside the station, an activity that will take up nearly half of the planned 6.5-hour spacewalk.

They'll also lube two grappling mechanisms, one on a mobile base that runs along the station's central truss, or backbone, and the other on the Japanese Kibo lab's robotic arm.

Other work includes arranging some cables and handrails on the Unity module and trying to connect two cables that gave spacewalkers trouble on the last shuttle mission.

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

Foreman, a 52-year-old retired Navy captain and veteran of three spacewalks last year, is the mission's lead spacewalker. He'll be wearing a spacesuit with solid red stripes on the legs.

Satcher, a 44-year-old orthopedic surgeon making his first spaceflight, is embarking on his first spacewalk. His spacesuit has no leg markings.

Randy Bresnik, the third member of the spacewalking team, will choreograph today's action from inside the station.

Atlantis launched at 2:28 p.m. Monday from Kennedy Space Center and docked with the station just before noon Wednesday.

The crew of six shuttle astronauts woke up today at 4:28 a.m. EST. Mission Control radioed up the tune "In Wonder" by The Newsboys, selected for Bresnik.

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