Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Discovery spacewalks are complete

Two astronauts this morning completed what may be the last spacewalk by crew members of shuttle Discovery.

Rick Mastracchio and Clay Anderson finished the current mission's third and final planned spacewalk at 8:28 a.m. EDT, ending a six-hour-and-24-minute effort outside the International Space Station.

No spacewalks are planned on Discovery's final flight, now scheduled in September.

The pair got their most important job done, again with some difficulty. They fastened an empty ammonia tank in Discovery's payload bay for the return trip home, a task that took longer than expected because of misalignment that kept a bolt from tightening.

Anderson had to forego retrieving a platform used to hold experiments on Europe's Columbus lab, but he and Mastracchio went on to tackle a few get-ahead tasks to benefit the next shuttle mission.

The two spacewalkers spent a combined 20 hours and 16 minutes outside the outpost during three spacewalks Friday, Sunday and today.

Today's was the 143rd spacewalk supporting station assembly and maintenance, all of which now total 893 hours and 33 minutes.

It was the sixth spacewalk each for Mastracchio and Anderson. Mastracchio finishes 21st all-time among U.S. spacewalkers with 38 hours and 30 minutes, two minutes in front of Anderson in 22nd place.

NASA will host a mission status briefing at 11:30 a.m., featuring lead station flight director Ron Spencer and lead spacewalk officer David Coan. As usual, you can watch it live here by clicking the NASA TV box at right to launch a viewer.

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