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Thu, Feb 08, 2007

ISS Team Wraps Up Record Third Spacewalk In Nine Days

Station Commander Earns New Record

NASA reports International Space Station Commander Mike Lopez-Alegria and Flight Engineer Sunita Williams wound up a six-hour, 40-minute spacewalk at 3:06 pm EST Thursday.

It was the last in an unprecedented series of three spacewalks in nine days from the Quest airlock, and also marked a new US spacewalking record. Halfway through the excursion, Lopez-Alegria passed the previous mark of just more than 58 hours held by astronaut Jerry Ross.

FOXNews reports Williams and Lopez-Alegria wrapped up their primary mission -- discarding two old thermal wrap sheets from the station. The large covers, combined with smaller shrouds, had provided insulation for an electronics box that is no longer needed in the station's current orientation. The debris will burn up in the atmosphere.

"I don't think I could do it any better than that," Lopez-Alegria said to Williams as the first package floated away.

NASA states the shroud task was followed by deployment of an Unpressurized Cargo Carrier Assembly Attachment System (UCCAS) on the upper face of the P3 truss. That was done in preparation for attachment of a cargo carrier during a subsequent shuttle mission. While Lopez-Alegria finished work on the UCCAS, Williams (shown below) moved to the end of the P5 truss to remove two launch locks, to prepare for the relocation of the P6 Truss.

The final scheduled task of the spacewalk was connecting four cables of the Shuttle-to-Station Power Transfer System (SSPTS) to Pressurized Mating Adapter-2 (PMA-2) at the forward end of the Destiny laboratory where shuttles dock. The SSPTS will allow visiting shuttles to take power from the station and thus extend their missions.

Work began on the system during the first spacewalk of the series on January 31. Two of the cables were routed and connected to PMA-2 on the February 4 spacewalk, with the last four cables connected to the PMA Thursday.

Lopez-Alegria also completed one get-ahead task. He took pictures of the connections on the PMA that provide communications between the station and shuttle while docked and before the hatches are opened.

The three spacewalks from the Quest airlock in US spacesuits -- along with a Russian spacewalk scheduled for February 22 -- are the most ever done by station crew members during so short a period. They will bring to 10 the total number of spacewalks by Lopez-Alegria, an astronaut record. Williams has a total of four, the most ever by a woman.

In two weeks, Lopez-Alegria and cosmonaut MikhailTyurin are scheduled to perform the Russian spacewalk in Orlan suits, from the Pirs airlock. They will work on an antenna of the Progress 23 unpiloted cargo carrier, docked at the aft port of the Zvezda service module.

As reported by ANN, that antenna did not properly retract when that spacecraft docked in October. The spacewalkers will try to secure or remove the antenna to avoid its interfering with the undocking of P23 in April.

FMI: www.nasa.gov

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