The International Space Station crew completed a spacewalk to connect cooling lines to prepare the orbital outpost for the delivery of a European science module next month. Peggy Whitson, the station’s commander, and Dan Tani plan a similar outing on Saturday to finish the crucial utility work.
The astronauts accomplished more than anticipated during Tuesday’s seven-hour spacewalk.
Their efforts assured them of light duty on Thanksgiving, while keeping NASA on the course for a December 6 launching of the European Columbus module aboard the shuttle Atantis.
“We have been highly successful so far,” said NASA’s Derek Hassmann, who supervised from Mission Control as the station’s lead flight director. “Thanksgiving should be a pretty light duty day.”
While the spacewalk was under way, the seven Atlantis astronauts climbed aboard their ship at the Kennedy Space Center to rehearse the countdown for their 11-day mission.
Preparations for the launch of the European lab picked up with the delivery of Harmony, the station’s most recent habitable module, aboard the shuttle Discovery in late October.
Last week, Whitson and Tani used the station’s complex robot arm to hoist the bus-sized Harmony from a temporary docking port on the outpost to a permanent berthing spot on the U.S. science module.
In its final berthing site, Harmony will serve as the passageway between the station’s older U.S., Russian and Canadian segments and Columbus. The larger Japanese science module Kibo will be attached to Harmony also. Kibo will require multiple launches, starting with a mid-February shuttle mission.