July 18, 2009

First STS-127 spacewalk takes place

Two U.S. astronauts ventured outside the International Space Station Saturday to install the final section of the station's Japanese laboratory, NASA said.

NASA reported on its Web site that while STS-127 shuttle mission member Dave Wolf and space station crew member Tim Kopra donned their battery-powered spacesuits to begin work on the third piece of the Kibo laboratory, called the Japanese Exposed Facility, other crew members were taking care of installation and robotics activities inside the station and shuttle.

CBS News said Saturday's spacewalk by Wolf and Kopra marks the first of five scheduled spacewalks for astronauts from the Endeavour.

Space station Flight Director Hal Getzelman offered an explanation regarding the installation of the new laboratory section.

Basically, the crew plugs it in with the robotic arm and those power and data and thermal connections are made automatically, he said.

Once those connections are made, later in the day the crew inside the space station works in concert with the flight control team in Japan to actually activate the Japanese Exposed Facility.