Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Astronauts Complete Spacewalk At Space Station

Two American astronauts are back inside the International Space Station today after a highly successful venture to route backup electrical lines to the Russian side of the outpost while bolstering its construction capability.

Endeavour mission specialists Drew Feustel and Mike Fincke reentered the U.S. Quest airlock and switched their spacesuit batteries off, marking the end of a six-hour, 54-minute spacewalk. On the third of four spacewalks planned during Endeavour's stay at the station, the astronauts finished all assigned work and more.

"It was a great day," said Feustel.

"You guys did awesome today," crewmate Greg Chamitoff said. "We're proud of you."

One of the prime goals of the excursion was to route power cables between the U.S. Unity module and the Russian Zarya space tug -- the first two building blocks of the station. They were linked in low Earth orbit in late 1998.

The astronauts also attached a special fixture to the hull of Zarya that will enable the station's Canadian-built robot arm to operate on the Russian side of the outpost.

The spacewalk was the 247th for U.S. astronauts and the 158th performed in the assembly and maintenance of the station. Spacewalking astronauts and cosmonauts now have spent 995 hours and 13 minutes raising the $100 billion complex.

The 11-year effort now has yielded a station that weighs one million pounds, features labs from the U.S., Russia, Europe and Japan, and spans an area larger than an American football field.

The fourth and final spacewalk for Endeavour's mission is slated to begin at 12:46 a.m. Friday.

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