Astronauts Take Spacewalk to Fix Up Space Station
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - Two astronauts worked to replace failed equipment outside the International Space Station on Thursday, making the second spacewalk in as many weeks at the 260-mile-high lab.
NASA's Sunita Williams and Japan's Akihiko Hoshide expected to spend six hours plugging in a new power-switching unit, hooking up power cables, and replacing a bad camera on the space station's big robotic arm.
They got off to a fast start, stowing an extending tool shortly after floating out.
"You have officially reached rock-star status," Mission Control radioed. "You've got your first get-ahead done and we're 30 minutes" into the spacewalk.
Trouble with the spacewalkers' helmet cameras prevented Mission Control from seeing close-up images of the early action. But an hour into the spacewalk, flight controllers got the problem fixed. "We're back," Mission Control assured the astronauts.
It's the second spacewalk in less than two weeks. On Aug. 20, two Russians worked outside the orbiting complex, installing shields to protect against micrometeorite strikes.
This latest flurry of spacewalks aside, it's no longer common for astronauts to step into the vacuum of space. That's because after almost 14 years, the space station is virtually complete and running well. Plus NASA's shuttles are retired and now museum pieces.
Williams is the lone woman among the space station's current six-person crew. She and Hoshide arrived at the space station a month ago, launching from Kazakhstan aboard a Russian rocket.