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ISS/Shuttle



Astronauts Enter Space Station 

By MARCIA DUNN
.c The Associated Press
  
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Sept. 12) - Astronauts and cosmonauts swung open the 
doors of the international space station and floated inside late Monday after 
speeding through six hours of exterior work. 

The crew of space shuttle Atlantis opened the first of 12 hatches leading 
into the 140-foot-long station a little early, entering the outermost 
vestibule and then the American module, Unity. 

``Welcome aboard,'' Mission Control radioed up. 

``It's great to be here,'' replied commander Terrence Wilcutt. 

It was expected to take a few hours for the seven men to make their way 
through the complex. The pressure had to be equalized from one compartment to 
another before doors could be opened. 

It was warm inside Unity - 81 degrees, although the humidity was low. Wilcutt 
and his crew seemed comfortable as they set up air ducts and consulted their 
checklists. 

Earlier in the day, a pair of spacewalkers hooked up cables, installed a 
navigation tool and dislodged a jammed piece of equipment on the outside of 
the space station. Once that was accomplished, the crewmen turned their 
attention to the inside. 

``Basically, it's a cabin we have that we're trying to get some furniture 
into and get it ready to move into,'' said mission operations director Milt 
Heflin. 

The space station is almost double the size it was the last time astronauts 
visited in May. Zvezda, the Russia-made control module, was added in late 
July. 

With only four days inside the station before Atlantis undocks this weekend, 
the astronauts and cosmonauts had to work fast. One of their first chores was 
to unload 1,300 pounds of gear from a Russian cargo ship that arrived in 
August. 

Atlantis contains an additional 4,800 pounds of supplies for the three men 
who will move in at the beginning of November for a four-month stay. 

NASA was cheered by the success of Monday morning's spacewalk by Edward Lu 
and Yuri Malenchenko. 

About 20 spacewalks are planned outside the station over the next year and a 
half alone. By contrast, Monday's outing was only the 50th in almost 20 years 
of space shuttle flight. 

``We're going to really start getting into the assembly of the space station 
in very short order here, and I feel like this spacewalk set the tone for 
what's about to come,'' said Mike Hess, the lead spacewalk officer inside 
Mission Control. 

During their spacewalk, astronaut Lu and cosmonaut Malenchenko had to avoid 
protruding antennas and docking targets as they clambered 110 feet up the 
station. The two wore American spacesuits, and mixed and matched American and 
Russian tools, while working on Russian compartments. 

They moved Zvezda's magnetometer onto the end of a 6 1/2-foot pole so it can 
better serve as a three-dimensional compass for the space station, and ran 
nine power, data and TV cables between modules. 

They also pushed out a docking target on Zvezda that failed to deploy 
following launch. NASA did not want the target popping out on its own and 
hurting a spacewalker. 

The two men were back inside Atlantis 16 minutes early. Then the shuttle gave 
the space station a three-mile boost in orbit. 

``This is the harbinger of things to come, I hope,'' Hess said. 

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