Monday, February 28, 2011

U.S. Spacewalkers Are "Back In Business"

Riding on the end of the International Space Station's 57.5-foot robot arm, Discovery spacewalker Stephen Bowen is hauling a huge coolant pump toward a stowage platform after a zippy recovery from a control station crash.

"I've got a hot shot station crew that moved to this (backup) work station in a second," Discovery mission specialist and robot arm operator Michael Barratt told Bowen and fellow spacewalker Al Drew. "I think we're back in business."

Added Discovery astronaut Nicole Stott: "That was a nice, quick recovery."

The joint shuttle-station crew went into a scramble when the prime robot arm control station in the outpost Cupola module crashed while Bowen was hanging on to the 800-pound pump, which is about the size of a large bedroom dresser.

Station skipper Scott Kelly and crewmates rushed to boot up a backup control station in the U.S. Destiny laboratory -- a process that only left the crew 15 minutes behind schedule.

The Cupola work station offers robot arm operators a panoramic view of work going on outside the outpost. Arm operators working in the Destiny lab must rely on television views to move spacewalkers around to different work sites.

The switch to the Destiny lab control station is no big deal. Station assembly work for years was carried out from that work station. The Cupola wasn't delivered to the station until February 2010.

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