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ISS News

Even in Space, a Hammer Comes in Handy 

By Brad Liston

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - U.S. and Russian astronauts aboard the 
International Space Station learned a valuable lesson on Wednesday -- when 
history's most expensive science project has a problem, nothing works like 
beating it with a hammer.

The problem arose as American Daniel Burbank and Russian Boris Morukov, 
crewmen from the space shuttle Atlantis, which is on a supply and assembly 
run to the station, were working on the electrical systems on the 
Russian-built Zarya module.

They needed to remove four nutplates that were blocking their access to a 
floor panel. The tiny plates, as it turned out, had been secured by rivets, 
not screws. The rivets wouldn't budge. Burbank, an aeronautical scientist, 
and Morukov, a cardiologist, were flummoxed.

On Earth, some of the planet's top space engineers in both the United States 
and Russia began working on a solution. NASA (news - web sites)'s space 
station flight director, Mark Ferring, described such joint efforts as ``one 
big control center across the world.''

Their solution was to get a hammer and half-inch (1.3 cm)chisel from a 
Russian tool kit.

``The crew did a little garage work. We proceeded to go whack at that a 
couple of times,'' said Ferring.

``Thanks for your ideas,'' Burbank radioed Earth. ``It worked out real well.''

Otherwise, there was not much communication between Mission Control and the 
seven Atlantis astronauts. Electrical work on both Zarya and the newly 
arrived Zvezda module consumed much of the day. The 20-ton Zvezda was 
launched in July without much of its hardware.

Atlantis and an unmanned Russian Progress cargo ship have ferried much of 
that missing hardware to the station. While one astronaut team installed 
batteries on Zvezda, Burbank and Morukov replaced batteries on Zarya that 
were nearing their useful lifetimes.

Altogether, the crew will offload more than three tons of hardware supplies 
from the shuttle's pressurized cargo hold and the Progress before departing 
the station on Sunday.

Once Atlantis departs, the station will be ready for its first long-duration 
crew, known as Expedition One, to arrive in November. From there, the United 
States, Russia and partners in Europe, Japan and Canada hope to keep the 
station staffed continuously.

Atlantis commander Terrence Wilcutt, a Russellville, Ken. native, gave an 
orbital interview to Kentucky television stations. One reporter asked if he 
had to remind himself where he was when he woke up in the mornings.

``No. You're usually a few feet off the ground when you wake up. That reminds 
you where you are,'' Wilcutt said.

Atlantis is scheduled to land at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida Sept 20. 


New Batteries For Space Station 
By MARCIA DUNN, AP Aerospace Writer 

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - Space shuttle Atlantis' astronauts plugged four 
fresh batteries into the international space station on Wednesday, a job that 
required a hammer, chisel and brute force.

``The crew did a little bit of garage work,'' said flight director Mark 

American Daniel Burbank and Russian Boris Morukov could not remove a bracket 
in the floor of the Russian module Zarya to get at a battery component, 
because of interfering nut plates. To their surprise, the plates were riveted 

The crew conferred with Mission Control in Houston, which conferred with 
Mission Control outside Moscow. The consensus: Go with the old-fashioned 

Burbank held the chisel while Morukov, bracing himself to get some leverage 
in the weightlessness of space, pounded it with the hammer.

``We proceeded to go whack at that a couple times and we got the nut plates 
off,'' Ferring said.

The aging battery was removed in the 2-year-old Zarya module, and a new one 
was installed.

In May, shuttle astronauts replaced four other batteries inside Zarya that 
had weakened apparently because of careless overcharging by Russian flight 

Next door in the new Zvezda control module, meanwhile, American Edward Lu and 
Russian Yuri Malenchenko had no trouble putting in three new batteries.

Zvezda, the living quarters once the first full-time crew arrives in 
November, was so heavy that the Russians had to strip it for its July launch. 
As a result, it flew with only five of eight batteries. Putting in the three 
remaining batteries brought Zvezda up to full power.

``It's really beautiful,'' shuttle commander Terrence Wilcutt said in a TV 
interview. ``Lots of room, lots of equipment and eventually, of course, we'll 
have a nice laboratory up here, too. About any astronaut I know would be 
happy to spend time up here.''

The astronauts had one more battery to install, inside Zarya. Other work 
planned for Thursday: putting in the tank for the toilet aboard Zvezda, 
hooking up a commode hose and hauling more supplies into the outpost.


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