Monday, November 23, 2009

Hunger no obstacle for Atlantis spacewalkers

Atlantis spacewalkers are again working ahead of schedule as they enter the home stretch of the mission's final spacewalk, having worked up an appetite.

Mid-way through a roughly six-hour excursion, around lunch time on the East Coast, spacewalker Randy Bresnik told partner Bobby Satcher to be on the lookout for some fast food.

"I don't know about you Bobby -- if we happen to pass a burger joint in the next few thousand miles, I wouldn't mind stopping and getting something," he radioed.

"That sounds good to me," Satcher replied. "Although for some reason I was thinking about nacho cheese tortilla chips."

"Mmmm, mmm, mmmm," Bresnik murmured.

By that time, the duo had accomplished their most important jobs, installing a spare, doghouse-shaped oxygen tank outside the Quest airlock, and setting up trays of materials experiments that will remain exposed to the extreme environment of space for about a year.

Since then, they've tied down dome debris shields removed to install the oxygen tank, loosened a bolt that will help future spacewalkers replace an ammonia tank, and installed some fluid jumpers and thermal covers over camera ports.

Mission controllers said they saw something float from Satcher's work site at one point, possibly a wire tie, but it was not considered to be significant.

The spacewalk, the last of three planned during Atlantis' 11-day mission, began at 8:24 a.m. EST and is likely in its final hour.

Atlantis is scheduled to depart the orbiting science complex Wednesday and return to Florida Friday morning.

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