Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Empty ammonia tank ready for return home

Discovery spacewalkers have overcome a misaligned bolt to successfully secure a refrigerator-sized coolant tank in Discovery for return to Earth.

Mission specialist Clay Anderson loosened one of the first three bolts he had tightened with a power drill, creating enough wiggle room for partner Rick Mastracchio to adjust the tank's alignment and drive home a fourth bolt that had been giving him trouble.

Anderson then was able to re-tighten his bolt, finishing the job.

"Now I can finally say, 'Good job, we have the ammonia tank in the payload bay,'" mission specialist Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger radioed from inside Discovery at 6:29 a.m.

She had declared success about an hour earlier, thinking only three of the four bolts needed to be secured.

"I spoke too soon," she said.

The task wasn't over until it was over. Mission controllers initially said they wanted a few more turns on Anderson's last bolt, then decided it was tight enough.

"We're going to call the (ammonia tank) secure," radioed Stan Love, an astronaut communicating with the crew from Houston.

Managers are reviewing what tasks can be completed in the remaining two hours or so scheduled for this spacewalk, the last of three by the Discovery crew.

They are also discussing a stuck nitrogen valve on the newly installed ammonia tank, which so far has prevented its full activation.

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