July 23, 2009

Third Spacewalk Ends Early, Kibo Robotics Work Planned

The third spacewalk outside the International Space Station yesterday ended after five hours, 59 minutes when a potential problem occurred with the carbon dioxide scrubbing device on one of the spacewalker's suits concerned flight controllers in Mission Control.

Mission specialists Dave Wolf and Chris Cassidy began the STS-127 mission's third spacewalk at 9:32 a.m. and ended it at 3:31 p.m. when Cassidy's CO2 levels increased more than expected as the two were in the midst of installing six new batteries used to absorb solar energy for electricity production when the station is not in sunlight. They completed two battery installations before ending the spacewalk. The remainder will be installed during the fourth spacewalk Friday.

To prepare for the P6 Truss battery swap out, STS-127 Pilot Doug Hurley and Mission Specialist Julie Payette used the station's robot arm to move the Integrated Cargo Carrier securing the batteries to the worksite.

The spacewalkers removed insulation covers from the Kibo module and readied the Japanese Exposed Section payloads for their transfer to the Exposed Facility on Thursday.

While there was no immediate danger to Cassidy, rules called for termination of the spacewalk. This was the third of five spacewalks planned while Endeavour is docked to the station and the 128th in support of station assembly and maintenance, totaling 798 hours, 30 minutes. It was the 100th spacewalk out of space station airlocks and the 216th American spacewalk in history. It was Wolf's seventh spacewalk, totaling 41 hours, 57 minutes and placing him 14th on the all-time list. It was Cassidy's first excursion.

Much of today's planned activity will focus on the Japanese robotic arm, which will be used to transfer systems and experiments to the newly installed Japanese Exposed Facility on Kibo. Astronauts Koichi Wakata and Tim Kopra will become the first to use the arm operationally as opposed to the testing that has been done up to this point.


Image Caption: The Japanese Logistics Module Exposed Section (JLE) is handed over from Endeavour's remote manipulator system to the space station's remote manipulator system (Canadarm2) during JLE unberthing and mating operations on flight day seven.


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