[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next] - [Date Index][Thread Index][Author Index]

ISS/Shuttle News

Shuttle Astronauts Install New Space Station Segment

.c The Associated Press
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Oct. 15) - With a joyous whoop, two astronauts floated 
out of space shuttle Discovery on Sunday and hooked up cables and antennas on 
the newest addition of the international space station. 

Spacewalkers Bill McArthur and Leroy Chiao spent six hours working on the 
aluminum framework that had been installed on the space station Saturday. 

Their excitement streamed through the radio lines as they toiled 240 miles 

``Woo-hoo!'' they shouted again and again. They described the 140-foot space 
station towering out of Discovery's cargo bay as ``huge'' and ``gorgeous.'' 

``This is too cool,'' McArthur called down. 

In the first of four spacewalks planned for this ambitious space station 
construction mission, McArthur and Chiao connected a series of power and data 
cables between the new framework, a girderlike truss, and the space station's 
Unity module. 

The men also rearranged two antennas on the truss and bolted a tool box to 
its surface. They attached the powerful, 6 1/2-foot dish antenna to the end 
of a 12-foot boom and gently swung it out. ``Whoa! Look at the boom!'' 
McArthur said. 

Given the delicate antenna's thermal sensitivity and precise connections, 
``that was one of the scariest tasks, I think, we've been presented in a long 
time,'' said Mission Control spacewalk officer Daryl Schuck. ``All of these 
things came together and worked perfectly.'' 

Besides antennas, the 15-square-foot truss holds four motion-control 
gyroscopes. It will serve as the base for a solar panel that will be 
installed in December by the next shuttle visitors. 

McArthur performed his chores while strapped to the end of Discovery's 
50-foot robot arm. 

``I was wondering what it was going to be like being out on the end of the 
arm, not being able to see the shuttle,'' he said. ``It's a strange feeling. 
My toes are curling right up.'' 

To NASA's disappointment, hardly any of the spacewalking work was seen down 
on Earth. 

An antenna failure aboard Discovery has prevented the crew of seven from 
beaming down live, continuous video since Thursday. The astronauts have had 
to use a slower shuttle antenna to relay staggered snapshots and occasional 
snippets of video. 

Astronauts have never attempted four spacewalks before on a space station 
mission. The most spacewalks conducted on a single shuttle flight is five; 
that was for critical repairs to the Hubble Space Telescope. 

During the next six years, astronauts and cosmonauts will have to perform 
nearly 160 spacewalks to assemble the international space station, an awesome 
challenge even by NASA standards. 

By comparison, only 51 spacewalks have been conducted in almost 20 years of 
space shuttle flight - including Sunday's. 

Shuttle astronauts Jeff Wisoff and Michael Lopez-Alegria will perform 
spacewalks on Monday and Wednesday. Monday's outing will include the 
installation of another space station segment, a docking port for future 
shuttle visits. 

Chiao and McArthur will go back out Tuesday for Spacewalk No. 3. 

Chiao performed two spacewalks on his last shuttle flight, in 1996. Sunday 
was McArthur's first spacewalk. 

The spacewalking work must be completed before the station's first permanent 
crew can move in early next month.



Astronauts Wrap Up First of Four Spacewalks 

By Brad Liston

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - A pair of spacewalking astronauts swarmed 
over the strangest and newest segment of the International Space Station 
(news - web sites) on Sunday, connecting cables and conduits, mounting a 
satellite dish and keeping up a running commentary on the joys of orbiting 
Earth in nothing but a spacesuit.

``Oh, sweet Jesus,'' said first-time spacewalker Bill McArthur as he emerged 
from the airlock of space shuttle Discovery, getting his best look yet of 
Earth below and the space station towering 13 stories above him. Then he let 
out a whoop.

``Awesome,'' agreed his partner, Leroy Chiao, making his third walk in space.

The two spent almost 6-1/2 hours on the first of four planned spacewalks on 
consecutive days. Chiao and McArthur will alternate with a second pair of 
astronauts, Jeff Wisoff and Michael Lopez-Alegria.

The focus of activity on Sunday was the newly installed Z-1 Truss, a base 
piece of the growing space station that will act as a kind of hub for the $60 
billion project's power grid. Its four large gyroscopes are designed to 
stabilize the station in orbit.

The nine-ton truss, an asymmetrical assembly of plates, girders, tubes and 
boxes, looked menacing, almost like a giant insect head, in the still images 
beamed back to Earth. Television from the shuttle was lost when an antenna 
failed last week.

By contrast, the rest of the station looks like a neat, if somewhat 
precarious, stack of tubes, cones and globes.

The truss rode to space in Discovery's payload bay last week, along with a 
new docking port that will be mounted on the station on Monday.

The truss was permanently mated to the station after Japanese astronaut 
Koichi Wakata maneuvered it into position with the shuttle's 50-foot 
(15-meter) robotic arm.

But the connections linking it to the three existing space-station modules -- 
Unity, Zarya (news - web sites) and Zvezda (news - web sites) -- had to be 
made outside the station. NASA (news - web sites) said power was flowing 
through the segment as the astronauts finished their work.

Once again Wakata wielded the robotic arm, this time with McArthur on its 
end, positioning him at various work sites and even inserting him into the 
narrow space between the station's Unity module and the truss, which is 
docked to its zenith port, hence the name Z-1.

``Boy, that shuttle's a long way down,'' McArthur said as Wakata flexed the 
arm and sent him high above the payload bay.

Chiao was free-floating throughout the operation, using safety tethers to 
prevent an accident that could send him drifting off into space.

The station currently rises above the docking berth in Discovery's payload 
bay. The two have been docked since Discovery's arrival on Friday.

The space station, a joint project of the United States, Russia, Japan, 
Europe and Canada, is set for completion in 2006.

The Z-1 will route power from an enormous array of solar panels to be 
deployed in November by the crew of the space shuttle Endeavour.

Discovery's 11-day mission is the last before the International Space Station 
is occupied permanently. The Expedition One crew of two Russians and their 
American commander is set to lift off from the Russian-owned launch complex 
in Kazakhstan at the end of October and arrive at the station two days later. 
Via the sarex mailing list at AMSAT.ORG courtesy of AMSAT-NA.
To unsubscribe, send "unsubscribe sarex" to Majordomo@amsat.org