March 21, 2009

Astronauts spend 6 hours outside ISS

Two U.S. astronauts spent more than six hours Saturday performing a series of chores outside the International Space Station.

The space walk by Steven Swanson and Joseph Acaba ended with difficulties maneuvering a cargo platform, CBS News reported. Earlier tasks included taking detailed photographs of the space station's large radiator panels and installing a GPS antenna.

Mike Fincke, nearing the end of a six-month tour as space station commander, radioed his thanks from the outer air lock.

Congratulations, guys. We sure appreciate the hard work you did for our beautiful space station, Fincke said. You guys proved that flexibility is definitely key. And a special congratulations to Joe. This was your first time out there, great job, my friend. So congratulations.

The space walk was the second for the current Discovery expedition and the 122nd for construction and maintenance at the station. Four space walks had been planned for this trip but the number was cut to three because of launch delays, and some tasks had to be redistributed.

Swanson secured an unpressurized cargo carrier system using tie-downs, a temporary expedient while engineers find a way to lock it in. Swanson and Acaba did not get to the deployment of another cargo container.