Friday, April 09, 2010

Discovery astronauts complete successful first spacewalk

The first of three Discovery spacewalks outside the International Space Station is in the books, having completed all its objectives.

Mission specialists Rick Mastracchio and Clay Anderson switched their spacesuits to battery power at 7:58 a.m. EDT inside the Quest airlock, completing a six-hour, 27-minute excursion.

Their primary task was to begin a three-step process to replace ammonia coolant tanks stored on the station's right side.

The spacewalkers unbolted the bulky 1,700-pound box holding the fresh tanks from Discovery's payload bay and carefully handed it to the station's robotic arm.

Astronauts inside the station then guided the tanks to a temporary position from which they'll be picked up on the next spacewalk, after the arm is repositioned.

Mastracchio and Anderson also retrieved experiments from Japan's laboratory and replaced failed gyroscope sensors, then accomplished a series of smaller jobs to assist future missions.

The spacewalk was the fourth for each of the astronauts, and the third they have conducted together. Mastracchio has the edge on career spacewalking time by two minutes, with 24 hours and 40 minutes.

It was the 141st spacewalk performed for space station assembly and maintenance since the first station modules were launched in 1998, totaling 879 hours and 43 minutes.

Mastracchio and Anderson plan to head outside twice more, on Sunday and Tuesday.

NASA will host a mission status briefing at 10:30 a.m. that you can watch live here -- click on the NASA TV box at right to launch a viewer.

The shuttle crew is scheduled to go to sleep at 1:21 p.m.

No comments: