Saturday, November 21, 2009

Delayed spacewalk begins after spares installed

Delayed more than an hour because of false alarms overnight on the International Space Station, two Atlantis spacewalkers have begun their day's work.

The shuttle mission's second of three planned spacewalks officially began at 9:31 a.m. EST when Mike Foreman and Randy Bresnik switched their spacesuits to battery power inside the station's Quest airlock, which they'll exit shortly.

Foreman, a 52-year-old retired Navy captain making his fifth career spacewalk and second of the mission, is wearing a suit with solid red stripes on the legs. His helmet camera will show No. 16 in the lower righthand corner.

Bresnik, a 42-year-old Marine lieutenant colonel embarking on his first spacewalk and still awaiting news about his daughter's birth back in Houston, is wearing a suit marked by broken red strip. His helmet camera will show No. 18.

Crewmates call Bresnik, a former combat and test pilot, by his Marine call sign of "Komrade."

"Welcome to EVA, Komrade," Foreman said as the spacewalk began, using the jargon term for spacewalking of EVA, short for extravehicular activity.

Foreman has indicated that he's having trouble hearing through his spacesuit's communications system, but will try to work through the issue.

In addition to pushing back the spacewalk, the overnight alarms led managers to cut a half-hour from the spacewalk that would have provided time for "get-ahead" tasks. The spacewalk is now scheduled to last six hours.

The spacewalkers will install several antennas and deploy a cargo attachment device on the station's Starboard 3 truss segment, near one Foreman and mission specialist Bobby Satcher deployed Thursday during the mission's first spacewalk.

Satcher is helping to coordinate the spacewalk activity from inside the shuttle's aft flight deck as the intravehicular officer, or IV.

Meanwhile, station crewmates operating the outpost's 58-foot robotic arm have achieved a top mission goal, attaching a second platform of large spare parts outside the station, close to where the spacewalkers will be working later.

The robotic installation intentionally was scheduled to occur on a spacewalking day, so the spacewalkers could provide manual help if any problems arose.

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

And take a look at this NASA TV schedule to follow the timeline for the spacewalk and mission ahead.

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