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Wed, Nov 21, 2007

ISS Spacewalkers Connect Electricity, Coolant Lines To Harmony

Third And Final Outing Planned For Saturday

Success! International Space Station Commander Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineer Dan Tani wound up a seven-hour, 16-minute spacewalk Tuesday afternoon to outfit the Harmony node in its new position in front of the US laboratory Destiny.

The spacewalkers wrapped up the excursion at 1226 EST Tuesday, according to NASA. The two connected electricity and fluid lines between the space station and the Harmony module.

The Associated Press reports connecting the ammonia coolant lines posed the greatest challenge. The lines were stored in an 18.5-foot, 300-pound tray secured to the station's main truss assembly; even in microgravity, the two astronauts had to take turns pulling the container to Harmony.

"Don't get it going too fast," Whitson warned Tani at one point.

After connections were established, Whitson was struck by frozen ammonia crystals during a venting operation. NASA told Whitson the crystals did not pose a hazard, as the sun would bake any crystals Whitson was unable to shake off.

Tani also experienced a minor incident, when the outermost layer of his right glove abraded as he hooked up the fluid lines... the third time in the past year that issue has cropped up. Tani suggested the operation led to the damage.

"Maybe not the big smoking gun we're hoping for, but something," he said.

A third and final outing to ready Harmony for next month's scheduled arrival of the shuttle Atlantis is scheduled for Saturday... after which time, the three-person crew onboard the ISS will finally have the chance to rest a bit. As ANN reported, the crew has worked nearly nonstop since the shuttle Discovery left the station two weeks ago.

The crew has even offered to work on Thanksgiving. "With this particular crew on board, I don't know if holidays mean anything to them. They are just a hard-charging, get-it-done crew," said station manager Kenny Todd last week. "We'll have to make sure they understand that it's Thanksgiving, and take some time and take a breath."

In other news, NASA is still working to determine which parts of a jammed joint on one of the station's two solar panel arrays are wearing against one another... and how to fix the problem. As many as four spacewalks may be needed to clean and repair the joint before the arrival of Japan's Kibo module next year.

FMI: www.nasa.gov

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