Monday, February 28, 2011

Injured Astronaut Watches Spacewalk Start

Discovery astronauts Stephen Bowen and Al Drew ventured outside the International Space Station today while the original lead spacewalker for the mission watched on in Mission Control In Houston.

"I'm really looking forward to working with you guys," NASA astronaut Tim Kopra told Bowen and Drew before they switched their suits to battery power at 10:46 a.m. EST, marking the official start to the first of two spacewalks planned during Discovery's 39th and final flight.

"It's great to hear your voice, and thanks for joining us down there and watching over us," said Discovery mission specialist Michael Barratt, who helped the astronauts gear up for the 154th spacewalk to be performed since station assembly began in 1998.

"It's my pleasure," Kopra said.

Kopra was selected to the STS-133 crew in September 2009 and was given an important assignment: lead spacewalker for the mission. But he was injured in a bicycle accident in mid-January and was forced to give up his role on the crew.

Bowen, who flew on Atlantis last May, was picked as a replacement. He is the first astronaut to fly consecutive missions, and he sent radio greetings down to Kopra as he suited up for the spacewalk.

"It's good to hear your voice, Steve," Kopra said.

"It should be the other way around, though," Bowen replied.

"You're a good man for the job," Kopra said.

Bowen is a veteran of five previous spacewalks. Drew is making his first, and in doing so, he became the 200th person to perform a spacewalk.

Said Kopra: "I'm looking forward to seeing you outside for the first time. You're going to do great today."

You can watch the action live here in The Flame Trench. Click the NASA TV box on the right and be sure to refresh this page for periodic updates.

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