Friday, May 15, 2009

Astronauts Complete 8th Longest Spacewalk

The eighth longest spacewalk in orbital flight history wrapped up moments ago by two of shuttle Atlantis astronauts as they continued work to service and upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope.

Atlantis crew members Mike Massimino (right) and Mike Good concluded the 7 hour, 56 minute spacewalk at 4:45 pm EDT today. "Welcome to the wonderful world of working in a vacuum", one crew member announced after the pair departed the airlock of Atlantis at 8:49 am.

The duo removed and installed three rate sensor units on Hubble during the midday hours EDT. The RSU's are comprised of six gyroscopes. One of the new 24 pound RSU's would not fit properly, so a refurbished spare was used instead to complete the job. All three units under went an aliveness test after each were installed by Hubble ground control in Greenbelt, Maryland.

"Hubble again threw us some curves today," Atlantis' commander Scott Altman radioed Mission Control this afternoon.

Massimino and Good also replaced three
nickel-hydrogen batteries from bay 2 of HST as the spacecrafts flew 350 miles above earth. It was the second of five planned extra vehicular activities or EVA's - NASA speak for a spacewalk.

Total Hubble spacewalk servicing time since December 1993 is now
144 hours and 26 minutes. Since today's EVA was the 8th longest, it had me recalling the longest. In March 2001, Susan Helms & James Voss performed an 8 hour & 56 minute spacewalk aboard the then- smaller international space station.

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