Saturday, September 05, 2009

Final Spacewalk of Discovery Mission Underway

The final spacewalk of the space shuttle Discovery's mission to the international space station got underway late today as two astronauts perform several maintenance tasks to service the station and prepare it for a new module.

Discovery launched astronauts Danny Olivas and Christer Fuglesang (above), of the European Space Agency, switched their spacesuits to internal power at 4:39 pm EDT, and stepped outside the Quest airlock of the station to begin a six and one-half hour spacewalk.

First up for the orbital duo is the replacement of a failed space station rate gyro assembly. They will disconnect cables and remove four attachment bolts as they remove the old gyro. They then will install a new gyro and later store the old one for it's return back to earth.

This 133rd spacewalk in support of space station construction and maintenance will also see several 60-foot long heater cables attached to the station's Unity module in preparation for their attachment to the Tranquility module which is due to launch aboard Endeavour this February.

Discovery's 37th flight crew includes commander Rick "CJ" Sturckow, pilot Ford, and mission specialists Jose Hernandez, Patrick Forrester, Olivas, Fuglesang and former station expedition 20 member Tim Kopra. Kopra was replaced last week with new expedition flight engineer Nicole Stott who rocketed into earth orbit aboard Discovery in the closing seconds of August 29th.

Space station expedition 20 crew members include commander Gennady Padalka, Michael Barratt, Roman Romanenko, Frank De Winne, Robert Thirsk, and Stott.

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