Monday, February 28, 2011

Control Station Crashes During Spacewalk

The prime work station for the International Space Station's robot arm just crashed, forcing the outpost crew to switch to a back-up so the spacewalk going on outside the complex can continue.

Located the station's Cupola, the prime work station affords robot arm operators a direct view of work being done outside the outpost -- in this case, spacewalking assembly and maintenance work being carried out by Discovery mission specialists Stephen Bowen and Al Drew.

The shutdown came as Bowen was starting to move an 800-pound coolant pump toward an external stowage platform. Crewmates asked if he was okay hanging onto the pump -- which is about the size of a large dresser -- until a back-up work station could be powered up.

"Yeah, I'm all right," Bowen said.

Station skipper Scott Kelly and Discovery mission specialist Michael Barratt now are switching to the back-up control station, which is located in the U.S. Destiny laboratory. Arm operators there have no direct view of the work outside and must instead rely on television camera views.

That will make it a bit more challenging to move Bowen -- who is anchored to the end of the 57.5-foot Canadian-built arm -- to various work sites around the station.

You can watch the spacewalk live in The Flame Trench. Click the NASA TV box to launch our NASA TV viewer and be sure to refresh this page for periodic updates.

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