Monday, February 28, 2011

Orbital Hardhats Work In Fast Fashion

Discovery's orbital hardhats are breezing through their assembly and maintenance work outside the International Space Station, completing their first task in fast fashion.

Twenty minutes after heading off to tackle their first job, spacewalkers Stephen Bowen and Al Drew finished rigging up an electrical extension cable between the U.S. Unity module and the U.S. Quest airlock.

The cable routes power to airlock heaters, and the extension will make any future maintenance easier once Discovery's prime payload -- a large cylindrical storage module -- is put in place on Unity's Earth-facing port. Without the extension, access would be limited.

"Good work," NASA astronaut Stan Love radioed up from the Mission Control Center in Houston.

"Thanks. I think we're moving along pretty well here," replied Discovery mission specialist Nicole Stott, who is directing the spacewalking work from inside the joined shuttle-station complex.

Bowen is anchored himself to the end of the station's 57.5-foot robot arm. Station skipper Scott Kelly and Discovery mission specialist Michael Barratt will transport Bowen up to a failed coolant pump while Drew retrieves a special tool.

About the size of a refrigerator, the 800-pound pump will be moved to an external stowage platform on the central truss of the station. Drew is fetching a tool that will be used to vent 10 pounds of residual ammonia from the pump during a second spacewalk slated for Wednesday.

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

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