Thursday, May 26, 2011

Last Shuttle Crew Spacewalk On Tap At Station

The last planned spacewalk by U.S. shuttle astronauts is set to get underway early Friday as the crew of Endeavour aims to wrap up an 11-year effort to build the International Space Station.

Endeavour mission specialists Mike Fincke and Greg Chamitoff are scheduled to exit the station's U.S. Quest airlock around 12:45 a.m. Friday on the fourth and final outing of the shuttle’s stay at the outpost.

The primary goal of the excursion: Leave the shuttle's 50-foot orbital inspection boom at the station in case outpost crews need an extended reach in the future.

The spacewalk will be the 159th performed in the assembly and maintenance of the station, the first two building blocks of which were linked in low Earth orbit in late 1998.

If all goes well during the planned 6.5-hour outing, the astronauts will pass the 1,000-hour milestone -- 1,000 hours of spacewalking work required to raise the $100 million complex.

"A thousand hours, that's pretty impressive," Fincke said in a news briefing earlier today. "We've really come a long way with spacewalking."

You can watch the historic final shuttle spacewalk right here in The Flame Trench beginning at 12:45 a.m. Click the NASA TV box on the right to launch our NASA TV viewer and round-the-clock coverage of NASA's next-to-last shuttle mission.

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