Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Spacewalkers Install & Retrieve Experiments

Spacewalkers on Monday night at the Zvezda Module.

High on orbit 220 miles above the good earth, the international space station and her crew closed out the final spacewalk of 2008 to install equipment and experiments as NASA and her global partners take one more step in the completion of the orbital outpost in space.

Commander Mike Fincke and Flight Engineer Yury Lonchakov completed a five hour, 38 minute spacewalk this morning at 1:29 am EST.

Among the tasks completed was the removal for return to earth of the Russian Biorisk long duration samples experiment from outside the Pirs compartment. 

They also installed a new European tray of experiments known as Expose-R on the Russian Zvezda module. However, as 11 PM EST approached, Expose-R was not communicating with the ground via cables connected by the spacewalkers. After several attempts to connect and reconnect, the ground told the pair to return Expose-R to the airlock. Mission control need to have that experiment rack communicate with its scientists in Europe.

Another experiment tray by the Russians was installed and is working nominally - the Impuls plasma physics experiment. It was install near where the Expose-R was installed on the Zvezda service module.

Tonight's 119th spacewalk devoted to the construction of the international space station was CDR Fincke's fifth, and lead spacewalker Lonchakov first. The thirs station crew member Sandy Magnus remained inside to assist with camera views and remind the pair of the the timeline.

Forty years ago, we were heading into lunar orbit for the first time. Today, we have a truly wonderful home in space. And in eleven years, we hope to be sailing the ocean of space as Americans return to the moon. 

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