Station crew finishes spacewalk
By Irene Klotz
CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) – The two men serving
aboard the International Space Station donned Russian
spacesuits and floated outside the orbital complex for a
five-hour spacewalk on Thursday.
The outing was the first for the crew since they arrived at
the station four months ago and was cut short by an hour when
they ran out of time for their final task. That work will be
rescheduled for a future spacewalk.
Commander Sergei Krikalev, who turns 47 next week, and
flight engineer John Phillips, 54, opened the hatch in the Pirs
docking compartment just after 3 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT) to begin
Krikalev, a Russian cosmonaut who was making his eighth
spacewalk, immediately tackled the first task on the to-do list
and retrieved a Russian medical experiment. Phillips, a U.S.
astronaut who made his first spacewalk, lingered in the airlock
for a few minutes to prepare equipment and adapt to the new
environment before joining Krikalev outside the space station.
“I feel great,” Phillips radioed in Russian to ground
control teams outside of Moscow.
The men retrieved and replaced several other space science
experiments stashed on the outside of the complex and
photographed a materials science experiment.
Among the gear brought back inside the station was a dummy
embedded with radiation sensors that is part of an
international effort to understand how radiation affects the
Krikalev and Phillips also installed a television camera
that will be needed when Europe’s new cargo vessel makes its
debut flight to the station next year.
The final task of the spacewalk was to relocate a grapple
fixture for a crane from outside the Zarya navigation and
communications module and reposition it on the Unity connecting
OUT OF TIME
Moving the gear will clear space for the next shuttle crew
to deliver radiation shields that are to be installed on the
Zvezda module by a future station crew.
Zvezda houses the living quarters. That work, however,
could not be completed in the time Krikalev and Phillips had
left to work in their spacesuits, and flight controllers told
the spacewalkers to head back inside.
No other spacewalks are planned for Krikalev and Phillips,
who are the 11th crew to live aboard the station. They are to
be replaced by a new crew who will arrive in a Russian Soyuz
spacecraft in October.
NASA had hoped to add a third member to the station crew
with the resumption of shuttle flights this year. However, NASA
said on Thursday its next mission to the station will not occur
before March to allow engineers time to fix problems with the
shuttle’s fuel tank.
Shuttle Discovery and a crew of seven linked up with the
station last month during NASA’s first shuttle mission after
the 2003 Columbia accident. The shuttle crew conducted three
spacewalks to fix station steering systems and deliver a
platform filled with spare parts.