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Astronauts Ready For 2nd Spacewalk

March 21, 2009

The second spacewalk of the first space shuttle mission of the year begins today on board a space station with two new solar array wings ready to start supplying electricity.

Today’s spacewalkers, Mission Specialists Steve Swanson and Joseph Acaba, spent last night in the International Space Station’s Quest airlock under reduced atmospheric pressure, a standard pre-spacewalk protocol to speed the purge of nitrogen from their bloodstreams. After a hygiene break they will return to the airlock accompanied by shuttle Pilot Tony Antonelli and Expedition 18 Commander Mike Fincke and Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata to continue preparations for their 6.5-hour spacewalk.

When the spacewalk begins at 11:43 a.m. CDT Swanson and Acaba will move to the far port end of the station’s truss structure to prepare the worksite for replacement batteries, a task slated to be completed during the STS-127 mission. Next, they will move inboard to the P3 truss segment to install an unpressurized cargo carrier attachment system.

Swanson then moves to the pressurized logistics module attached to the Kibo laboratory to install a Global Positioning System antenna, which will be used for the planned September rendezvous of a new Japanese cargo ship, and then moves to the Z1 truss segment to reconfigure connectors at a patch panel. In the meantime, Acaba will be collecting standard and infrared imagery of panels of the radiators deployed from the P1 and S1 trusses.

Swanson and Acaba join forces again at the S3 truss segment to install a payload attachment system before heading back to the Quest airlock to conclude the spacewalk.

Today’s wake-up music was “In a Little While” performed by the group Pilgrim and Trout for Mission Specialist Richard Arnold.

The next status report will be issued at the end of the crew day, or earlier if events warrant.

Image Caption: During the STS-119 mission’s first spacewalk, astronauts Richard Arnold and Steve Swanson (out of frame) connected bolts to permanently attach the S6 truss segment to S5. The spacewalkers plugged in power and data connectors to the truss, prepared a radiator to cool it, opened boxes containing the new solar arrays and deployed the Beta Gimbal Assemblies, containing masts that support the solar arrays. Image Credit: NASA

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