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First Spacewalk Complete

September 2, 2009

The first spacewalk of the STS-128 mission came off without a hitch on Tuesday, as spacewalkers Danny Olivas and Nicole Stott completed all the tasks on their to-do list.

Olivas and Stott left the International Space Station at 4:49 p.m. Tuesday, and spent the next 6 hours and 35 minutes outside, working to get cargo that space shuttle Discovery will bring home ready for its return. They started with a depleted ammonia tank assembly on the P1, or port 1, segment of the station’s truss, getting it out of the way in preparation for the installation of a new tank to be installed on Thursday, during the mission’s second spacewalk. The ammonia in the tanks is used to cool the station and expel the heat generated by its residents and systems.

Once they’d installed the ammonia tank assembly in Discovery’s cargo bay, the spacewalkers moved to the exterior of the Columbus laboratory to retrieve two science experiments ““ the European Technology Exposure Facility and the sixth Materials International Space Station Experiment.

EuTEF, as the first is called, has been at the space station since October 2007, and held nine different experiments, most of which collected various types of information on the environment of space. MISSE-6 was housed in two suitcase-sized containers and evaluated the effect of the space environment on various material and coating samples.

While Discovery was being packed for its return trip outside the station, shuttle and station crews were working inside to unload the Leonardo multi-purpose logistics module that Discovery brought up. The station’s new treadmill — the Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill, or COLBERT — was unloaded, as were the new crew quarters and the new air revitalization system rack.

Discovery’s crew is scheduled to go to sleep just before 3:30 a.m. on Wednesday, and be awakened at 11:30 a.m. The next shuttle status report will be issued after the crew receives their wakeup call or earlier if events warrant.

Image Caption: Discovery spacewalker Danny Olivas at work during the STS-128 mission’s first spacewalk. During the six-hour, 35-minute spacewalk, Olivas and astronaut Nicole Stott, removed an empty ammonia tank from the station’s truss and temporarily stowed it on the station’s robotic arm. Olivas and Stott also retrieved the European Technology Exposure Facility and Materials International Space Station Experiment from the Columbus laboratory module and installed them on Discovery’s payload bay for return. Credit: NASA




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