Space Walk Yields Fix for Space Station

A space walk today to repair parts of the International Space Station was the second of three scheduled for the current mission. As Houston Public Radio's Jack Williams reports, astronauts were able to fix part of a rail-car system that has helped with the construction of the space station.

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"I'm coming in."

After an almost 7 hour spacewalk, mission specialist Piers Sellers deserved some rest as he and fellow astronaut Mike Fossum wrapped-up a busy day of work that included replacing a pump module and repairing a mobile transporter that moves along tracks on the outside of the space station.

"All the way on the bottom. You can see the buckle there, right?" "Yeah, you bet." "That was the view you were expecting, huh?" "Okay. That's perfect. Good deal."

The spacewalk was the second of the mission and possibly the most important, with the mobile transporter a key component of the space station's construction. It had been out of commission because of a severed cable. Rick Labrode is the lead space station flight director for the current mission.

"Man, do I feel better. I've spend the better part of the last three years of my life putting together this mission. This particular (spacewalk) was my main concern. The obvious reasons are it was extremely complex and challenging and there's just huge implications to the continued station operations. So it was a big deal and to get it behind us successfully, it's a great feeling."

The space walk was not without its anxious moments. An anchoring device that keeps the astronauts from floating away during the space walk came loose, but was quickly fixed before it became an issue. This is lead spacewalk officer Tomas Gonzalez Torres.

"In order to protect for the second latch inadvertently coming free we actually did put a tether on it just to make sure. As it happens later on, it did. We think that more because of some more bumping that was going on, that's when we discovered it. We actually were able to engage both of those towers back in place during the (spacewalk) and end up with a nominal situation."

The crew is now about halfway through the planned 13-day mission, with a third and final spacewalk set for Wednesday. Chief of the flight director's office Phil Engelauf says the success of the current mission means two additional missions later this year look promising.

"The success of this mission so far, I think, is a good indicator that we're heading toward another launch in the August timeframe unless anything new comes up. We've got STS-115 at that time and then STS-116 coming soon after that in December. The assembly sequence is set to proceed fast and furious here. We're only six or seven weeks out from the next mission."

Bio photo of Jack Williams

Jack Williams

Director of News Programming

News Director Jack Williams has been with Houston Public Radio since August of 2000. He's also a reporter and anchor for Houston Public Radio's local All Things Considered segments...